I started thinking about that this morning, how some people burn for publication and others don't; how for some, feedback from readers is a requirement, while for others simpy to write is enough; how a published writer will often get less feedback than the average fanfiction story; how a writer can fall in love with the semicolon.
There's something about the paper, for me. I handle cotton rag paper and feel like it's the biggest luxury in the world. My favorite pens can inspire a feeling like lust in my fingers. Seeing my words on a page, all clean and black and physical, gives me a frisson. Or sometimes it does.
The excitement from the actual physical process of writing is a little less these days. My stories have appeared in anthologies, and I get my copies in the mail, but I have little interest in opening the book to find myself. I usually read my author bio instead, to make sure there are no typos or other egregious errors. Then, sometimes, I will read the other stories in the volume, especially those by writers whom I've come to know. But my own story? The excitement came with the sale, with that first notification that someone wanted to give me money for art. Sending in the contract, getting the check, the books, giving a reading--not the same buzz as "Congratulations! Your story XY has been accepted!"
It must be the validation I crave above all. I wouldn't write if it didn't make me deeply happy and fulfilled to do so, and I love it when people tell me they like what I've written (though sometimes praise embarrasses me a little, why?) and I love mentally spending my paycheck many times over, but the best thing, the thing I seem to need most, is the assurance that my story has some kind of objective value.
Of course, there is no such thing. Selling a story has to do with writing skill, of course, but also with following submissions guidelines but not too slavishly, the editor's taste, the mix of stories needed for the anthology or magazine or whatever, etc., etc.. A little halo does not ascend from on high and surround a story with a glowing aura if it's worthy. I know this. But to whatever crocodile brain part of me it is that squeals with delight or merely sighs with relief, none of that is at issue.
Selling my writing, for me, is validation.
There are other kinds of validation, feedback being one. For me, feedback isn't enough. Addiction metaphor looming! [backing away slowly]
I still haven't answered my own question. Why do I need this particular validation and others don't? It's plain I have a mental hierarchy of quality, and publication is part of that schema. But why?