Why we writeFellow fiction-writers in Zoetrope.com have been batting this question around -- why write at all, given the remoteness of chances for fame and fortune, especially in relation to the enormous amounts of energy and fretting we put into our work? I think for me the answer is simply this: I have something I want to say. It is only one thing, and it may be a simple thing, but it is too elusive to be trapped in a single essay or book, or a single short story or novel. It has something to do with human nature and frailty, and how we band together and why sometimes, out of fear, we destroy our own dreams. Something like that. Anyway, I'm still trying to catch it, in many different ways: a novel about city vs. anti-city (see Chapter 1 at The Copperfield Review), essays and books on ethnic relations, and so on.
I really think that's all there is to it. One idea, one thing to say, incessant writing in order to say it. I think Philip Roth, or Thomas Pynchon, or Robert Graves or any number of other writers could describe their work the same way -- though the idea each was/is pursuing may be a little different. Fame and fortune, while welcome if they come, are almost irrelevant.