Think About this One

What’s more important? Being happy with your work, or getting it published?

Tell me.

I’ll be interested in your answers (and no, this is not a test). See you on Monday!

P.S. Today’s question was suggested by @LeftyWritey on Twitter.

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Auto Sales on August 5, 2011 at 9:37 PM

    Auto Sales…

    Very good blogsite, thank you so much for your effortin writing the posts….

  2. Taylor on June 20, 2010 at 10:40 PM

    >Getting published is most important. This is because I want to get good at writing and all the writers I admire and consider good are published.

  3. Missives From Suburbia on June 15, 2010 at 6:42 PM

    >Perhaps this makes me an egomaniac, but I'd rather be published. I'd rather have people stop me on the street and tell me how much my writing touched or entertained them, than sit in my lovely little office swooning over my own unpublished prose.

  4. Barbara's Spot on the Blog on June 15, 2010 at 12:01 PM

    >I'm not published (yet) but my vote goes to being happy with my work.

    It may not have found its way through the publishing process which is affected by so many factors, the economy being a big one as well as what's the latest trend. That can't negate the fact that I have a story to tell and a deep belief there's a least one other person on the planet who needs to hear it.

  5. AJ Larrieu on June 14, 2010 at 10:08 PM

    >I agree with a lot of folks who've posted here: I've got to be happy with what I write. A story won't feel "done" if it doesn't get published, but I couldn't publish something that didn't feel true to me. So, being happy with my work wins.

  6. PicardyRose on June 14, 2010 at 8:14 PM

    >I'm content to go on writing my novel. It's not good enough to be published, but I'm enjoying it, anyway.

  7. Tyrie on June 14, 2010 at 10:35 AM

    >I would say, "being happy with my work," but only because publishing is very different in academia – it's not as "rare," I guess. I was also a journalist for a number of years, so seeing my work in print has lost its luster over the years. I would rather "perish," than to have something out there with my name on it, floating about in the world, that I was horrified with or felt did not represent my best work (actually, there is some such stuff out there … sad).

  8. Amanda G on June 14, 2010 at 8:24 AM

    >I wouldn't try to publish something I wasn't "happy with" (i.e. something I believe is the best I can possibly make it). But I won't ever be fully happy with my writing if I don't achieve publication. So … for me, I guess they're equal.

  9. Ju Dimello on June 14, 2010 at 6:08 AM

    >Great to see so many answers.. especially for a question I had asked myself long long back :

    I think we should love it when we write, be happy with it to be more productive.
    But the moment it is out of our hands and with an agent or publisher, it is important to be practical, analyze revisions and their suggestions, look at it with a critical eye, to get it published !

    If one was self-publishing their own work, then it is a different story 🙂

  10. Gina Burgess on June 13, 2010 at 10:54 PM

    >I agree with Melissa…
    I'm a journalist (was an editor of a newspaper and was a Lifestyles Editor)…

    However, I could never let an article be published unless I was satisfied with it.

    On the other hand, I was also an internet redactor, and I got so tired of writing real estate investment "ads" that I screamed "I give up!" and quit doing it.

    There must be a happy medium, otherwise the writer will wither.

  11. Cheryl on June 13, 2010 at 4:53 PM

    >I think it depends on who you ask.

    Some don't care if they get published. If you are writing for your own happiness, that doesn't make you good so publishing may be out of the question whether you realize it or not. And if happiness truly is your only goal, then it's just a hobby. There's nothing wrong with having and enjoying your hobby. Being a hobbyest doesn't automatically preclude you from being published, some of them work very hard to perfect their craft. Others don't.

    But for those of us that would like a career in writing, publishing is the most important thing because we wouldn't try to get anything we don't love published. At least I wouldn't. If changes were ever requested (which I would be okay with since it means someone is publishing me), I would hope that I'm good enough to not only make those changes but make them and still be proud of my work.

    If I can't, then I may forever be forced into the hobbyest category by sheer lack of being published. I would still be happy with my work but I certainly wouldn't have a career, which is my goal. I've only recently come to accept the concept of making what you love to do your job. I love to write. I want to be published so I don't have to do anything but write.

    You should be able to do both and if you can't well, then enjoy your hobby.

  12. Suzette Hollingsworth on June 13, 2010 at 4:42 PM

    >Both are necessary for the dream to be realized, resulting in the realization of one's talent, connecting with one's fan base, and replacing a job which drains all of one's creative energy.
    I am not tempted by market trends, and it comes quite naturally to me to be true to my voice even though my writing does not fall neatly into any niche or genre and even though being published is the most important unrealized dream of my life.
    At the same time, as a creative person–and we tend to love our own work!–I am sometimes unable to identify and differentiate between that which needs improvement and that which is unique to my voice. Outside editorial input (and rejections!) can clarify this and point to where I need to grow as a writer. This is a fun process as well: banging my head against the wall for three weeks until one day I wake up and know what to do–and thereafter committing six months of my life to revisions and self-torture while working in an outside full-time job.
    Looking at the finished process is worth it. Until I receive another rejection letter.
    When I am truly satisfied with my work and believe it has finally arrived–I think it is all the more frustrating to have no takers. At the same time I am grateful to simply possess the gift. If I have to, I'll self-publish. So, yes, being published is necessary–as is living a genuine life as a person and as an author.

  13. Lyndieb on June 13, 2010 at 4:32 PM

    >Neither. I missed the funeral of a man who had been an influencer on my childhood. In the sympathy card for his wife, I wrote a note of thanks for the many opportunities they had provided me. What started as a sentence turned into a page and a half as my heart overflowed with gratitude. Through my tears as I reviewed my note, I heard God say, “Did I ever say you would write a novel? Can you be happy if this is all I call you to write?” My answer was yes and anything else is extra blessings.

  14. Cherie Hill on June 13, 2010 at 8:20 AM

    >Interesting responses…what I've found however, (by speaking with published author friends) is that those who are NOT published say they are mostly concerned with being pleased with their writing…content with their work that "God has ordained" them to do. Then, they get published and they find out it's NOT enough. They struggle internally and start criticizing themselves because their "numbers" aren't good…they're not "selling" their work.

    Back to square one…authors begin wrestling with why they're writing…they've lost focus…they no longer "write" for the "right" reasons…they begin writing for their glory…not His.

    Don't think this is true…it's like taking marriage vows and believing that the "worse" part in "for better or worse" will never happen. It's inevitable.

    "I'm just sayin.'" 🙂
    God bless,

  15. Rick Leland on June 13, 2010 at 7:41 AM

    >The NIV version of 1 John 1:4 emphasizes my perspective on writing—“These things we write that our joy may be complete.”

    Here the Apostle John’s ultimate joy came from pleasing God. And it is closely linked with imparting Godly influence to the reader’s of his writings.

    If our focus aims at pleasing God and serving people, "happy with our work" is replaced with a deeper knowing of our purpose.

    I have discovered—if I write a piece, which is of publishable quality, and it isn’t published; God is most likely using the experience for my personal growth.

  16. Sandy at God Speaks Today on June 12, 2010 at 10:56 PM

    >I want my writing to impact the lives of others.

    I love to write. I think God gifted me to write. And for those reasons, I don't write for myself. I would feel like I was wasting the talents God has given to me if I only cared what I thought of it.

    Ironically (or maybe not) the stuff I like the best is usually the stuff that gets published.

  17. Amy on June 12, 2010 at 10:24 PM

    >For me, I need to be happy with my story to feel secure enough to submit it. So far, the only piece of writing that's passed that test for me has been shelved after 10 rejections.

    I'm still happy with the piece, and hope that as I continue writing and submitting I'll improve and maybe reach publication one day.

    Freaking out about a publishable manuscript when editing/revising killed my ability to write new material for a year, so I'm trying to separate the two.

  18. Mary Aalgaard on June 12, 2010 at 12:34 PM

    >Being happy in my creative work. The way it might be published might look very different from a book on a shelf.

  19. Katherine Hyde on June 12, 2010 at 11:23 AM

    >OF COURSE doing work I can be proud of is more important than having it published. If by some miracle I were able to publish something sub-standard, I would always be ashamed of it.

    But why do we have to choose?! They ought to go together like bacon & eggs!

  20. Margo Berendsen on June 12, 2010 at 10:21 AM

    >I've seen published authors in just as much turmoil over their work once it's out there, as I ever had worrying if my work will someday get out there.

    I can picture myself with my first published book, after the first elation wears off, when I see the sales trickling off after a while. Second-guessing myself. Should I have worked on it longer? Should I have waited until I was a more mature writer? Should I have gone with what I loved insead of writing for a market?

    Right now I know God has me in a place of learning. He's given me some ideas that are amazing (at least to me!!) but I'm not satisfied with my writing yet, that it can do these stories justice. Not only do I think being happy with your work is key, but I think you need to feel direction from God too. That He's happy with your work too I think.

    For someone who is a career writer, whose livelihood depends on writing, I can see where the answer would be "getting it published." But even then I would hope, if they are a Christian, that they would reject publication for the sake of money alone. That they would take on a project only if they felt God leading them to work on it and publish it.

  21. marypotterkenyon on June 12, 2010 at 7:39 AM

    >I'm not sure I can be happy with what I've written if I'm not getting published. I have dry spells when I am prolific in writing by not having acceptances. Those times are really difficult for me, and even my family notices that I am not really *happy* during those periods. I love writing, I have to write daily, but I have to say I need those acceptances. This is especially difficult for me right now while I am waiting to hear on several different submissions and looking for an agent who will get as excited about my current project as I am.

  22. Lydia Sharp on June 12, 2010 at 7:24 AM

    >While I'd love for every story I complete to get published, I know better. Some of it will never see an editor's desk, let alone a printing press. And I'm okay with that.

  23. Kathryn Magendie on June 12, 2010 at 7:11 AM

    >PS – if this question meant: would I let something "go" if it weren't ready for publication just to be published: Not in theory. Would I write something I didn't believe in or felt was not my own voice or style just to be published: couldn't imagine I would. 🙂 Even writers can have standards *laugh*

  24. Kathryn Magendie on June 12, 2010 at 7:08 AM

    >I'd lie if I said I am not happy and that I feel "validated" and that it's come full circle since my books are published versus when not, because writing without publishing is writing in a vacuum, an incomplete circle, a feeling of "but . . . " always there. No matter how much I have the desire and need to write, the circle won't close until I publish.

  25. Em-Musing on June 12, 2010 at 6:35 AM

    >Being published is more important to me because I'm never satisfied with what I write. If I'm published, at least someone was pleased with my writing.

  26. Oscirus on June 12, 2010 at 3:19 AM

    >At the end of the day, the point of writing is to get your message out to the masses. Sure, you can gain satisfaction from having created what you deem as the perfect masterpiece, however, if you are unable to get other people to read your "masterpiece," then the message is meaningless. For that reason, I think it is more important to get your work published.

  27. Steve on June 12, 2010 at 1:04 AM

    >For me it is all about being happy with the work – but that would include knowing the work has found a receptive audience. Traditional publishing yields a larger audience, but "give it away on the Internet" is much easire. On the balance, I'm leaning toward "give it away online". If people read and enjy it, I would be happy.


  28. Chris Richards on June 11, 2010 at 10:16 PM

    >No question – being happy by serving the Lord through my writing. If money was number one, I'd find a different profession.

  29. Jason on June 11, 2010 at 9:15 PM

    >It's kinda like the sports mantra we always tell our kids, "it's not whether you win or lose, it's about having fun."

    But one of my six year old's teammates remarked that winning is a whole lot more fun than losing.

    So I guess I feel the same way about this…I can't imagine a scenario of being published and not being satisfied with my work.

  30. Kristen Torres-Toro on June 11, 2010 at 8:37 PM

    >But can't I have both? :0)

  31. Anonymous on June 11, 2010 at 8:19 PM

    >When I first started, it was all about the writing…now that I'm more confident with my work, it's getting published that matters!

  32. Aimee LS on June 11, 2010 at 8:07 PM

    >I don't think anyone can honestly answer this question until they've been faced with a 'change this or we won't publish it' ultimatum.

    Like Rachelle said, if it was over one word, I personally think you'd have to examine your motives. But what if it was over the moral integrity of the work? Or challenged an intended spiritual theme or honor?

    We'd all like to think we're more concerned with our work than our recognition / achievement…but I suspect few have faced the litmus test.

    Only the WHY behind this question is going to determine that.

  33. Gwenn Brown on June 11, 2010 at 6:57 PM

    >If I am to remain true to God, my calling, and myself, I have to say first of all, it's not my work, but His. He has chosen me to write the vision and make it plain for others.

    Therefore, the answer to your question is- it is important to me to have the work He has entrusted to me published so that others may see it as a beacon of light which inturn makes me happy.

  34. emilymurdoch on June 11, 2010 at 5:41 PM

    >Perhaps one angle of the question comes down to, is your writing art, or product?

    If art, who wouldn't bristle? Who would dare tell an artist what word or brushstroke is the proper one? The horror!

    If it's product (which, a hard lesson, it is, if one is pursuing publication) then flexibility is key.

    The middle ground is balancing ones unique talent (art) with what's selling (product).

    The tightrope is doing so while remaining happy with ones art/writing/choices/reality.

  35. Teri on June 11, 2010 at 5:18 PM

    >If my sole purpose in writing is to please myself I don't need to be published. I can keep a leather journal for that. ; ) Editors, agents, and publishers help the work become pleasing to a crowd. So there must be some cooperative work from private writing to selling books in stores. Rare is the genius who writes exactly what everyone wants to read. Maybe others are – I don't assume I am that genius.

    But if "they" want to change the work until it's not "me" anymore, or change the POINT of the story – well, it can't work. There is a time to say: I don't care what the market thinks it needs. Especially when through my writing I am trying to change a stagnant and sickly culture. There are some things you can't give up.

    So, I think it depends on the damage to the story.

  36. June on June 11, 2010 at 5:06 PM

    >My first thought was "are the two mutually exclusive?" This post leads me to consider that perhaps a writer will be asked to change the work so much, it may not be recognized as the story they intended to write.

    I guess much would depend on how much and what kind of changes are asked of the writer. If you write for others to enjoy, it's not going to do you much good if it doesn't get published, so a writers motive is going to be paramount.

  37. Melissa Emerald on June 11, 2010 at 4:55 PM

    >Many of the answers tell me that people are interpreting the question differently than I have.

    Of course we want to submit work we are happy with. But what happens if an editor insists on changes, changes you don't like?

    Do you pull your manuscript and put the loose leaf pages in a pile on your shelf? Or do you suck it up, make the changes and later set the published book on your shelf?

    Again, there is no right or wrong answer. But MY answer–at least for my fiction writing–is to suck it up and get published. Of course, I'd feel differently if I were writing nonfiction and an editor insisted I put it factually incorrect information.

  38. emilymurdoch on June 11, 2010 at 4:45 PM

    >Thanks Rachelle!

    When I saw my question here, the last thing I expected, I almost fell off my chair! : )

    I can't even answer my own question. The replies have been phenomenal, with some leading to more questions in a sort of domino effect (love that).

    I like what Scott said:

    "Scott said…

    That's easy: being happy with my work.

    I know that the best writing I ever did was when I wrote soley for myself, without a thought for a greater audience, or anything, except writing what I wanted to write. It was an absolutely freeing time."

    I was contemplating this question as I thought about my previous ms — so much praise for the writing, but not seemingly a fit for the market.

    Being happy with my writing, of course, leads me to believe I have something worth sharing and/or publishing.

    However, on the other hand, is it enough, writing for writing's sake, if publication doesn't happen? (In the sense of the intensity of editing and polishing, all those hours away from life's other joys?)

    As I ride down Query Road with my present novel (I write YA), there are times I feel existential anger/a slave to my want/need to publish. The joy of writing (while in process, which is one of the joys of my existence) becomes clouded by the desire to publish and the stress and anxiety that comes with having queries and fulls out (I'm clenching my teeth in my sleep) and the rollercoaster of doubt that creeps in and out of my days.

    The feeling of writing and loving my writing is great. Sometimes I wish I didn't care about publishing in order to keep that happiness and peace intact.

    However, from a bird's eye view, the trial by fire of pursuing publication has seasoned me as a person and further developed my character across the board. That, really, has been invaluable.

    @leftywritey on Twitter (who loves new writing friends! : )

  39. on June 11, 2010 at 4:42 PM

    >hmmm…if I am reading the question correctly, you are asking if it is better to be 'published' or better to be proud and happy with what you have written. Not so much is it better to be happy with your writing even if you are never published?

    It is impossible for me to answer! As someone who is beginning to write for magazine publication, I know I will be asked to change my angle at some point. If it changes my happiness about my work what will I do? Not sure.

    As someone who is also writing a book…I think it holds more weight that I would want to be happier with the final product. It takes so much longer to do!

    I suppose I want the best of both worlds! I want to write AND be published…otherwise I am better off writing in 400 journals over a lifetime…and not going beyond that!

    Good stumper!


  40. Margaret on June 11, 2010 at 4:18 PM

    >I'm determined to march on to publication, so this is a very interesting question, but ultimately the answer has always been the same. I need to write what makes me happy. Getting published for something that doesn't would be like not getting published at all.

  41. Rebecca LuElla Miller on June 11, 2010 at 3:52 PM

    >This reminds me of discussions at Dave Long's FIF years ago about writing for ourselves or for publication. My contention then was that writing, as a form of communication, needs to be done with the idea that someone will be listening. I still believe this, unless a person is writing in his or her journal. Consequently, I think most of us will not be happy simply being happy with our work. The true "happy" comes when the purpose is accomplished—communicating with someone else, and hopefully many someone elses.

    The option I shrink from, however, is publication of something with which I am unhappy. Once I had a high school sports newspaper article edited in such a way that it changed the facts. I cringed that my work was published because I knew it wasn't good.

    Image if that were a book and I knew it wasn't very good. Would I be out there doing all in my power to get it in print? Hardly! As long as I know it isn't good, I'd want to keep it out of print and either set it aside or make it better.

    So above all, I want honest feedback to help me determine my next step.


  42. Caroline Starr Rose on June 11, 2010 at 3:30 PM

    >Fortunately, with my brilliant editor, I'm getting both!

  43. Chris Morrow on June 11, 2010 at 3:03 PM

    >I enjoy writing, but I don't write simply to entertain myself. Reading a book is a lot less work than writing one. I write fiction with the purpose of sharing it with others. I have a hard time being happy with something until it is published.

  44. Heather Sunseri on June 11, 2010 at 2:22 PM

    >What a great question. The first book I wrote was in a genre I love to read, but I realized soon after I finished it that I would never be happy writing in that genre or being published in that genre. I felt called to write a different book. So, I guess I fall closer to the side of being happy with what I've written as being more important than being published. Having said that, because I find it difficult to ever reach complete happiness with what I've written (there's always a word to be changed), I hope to be published long before I'm ever 100%happy with what I've written.

  45. Sheila Deeth on June 11, 2010 at 2:13 PM

    >Being happy would have to include believing what I'd written had a purpose. I suspect that means getting published is a fairly important aim.

  46. Care on June 11, 2010 at 2:12 PM

    >Hands down being happy with what I write always seems to come first.

    Yet, I find sway to agree with what anonymous wrote too, why can't we have both?

    No matter what happens published or not I will give it my best shot and feel joy in the process.

  47. Diane J. on June 11, 2010 at 1:50 PM

    >Okay, let's take a hop on the "lack of self-esteem roller coaster" shall we:
    Whee! I love what I wrote.
    Whoa! No one else likes it.
    Whee! That's okay, I'm happy.
    Whoa! If I'm the only one that likes it, does that mean I have bad taste? Does that mean I can't write?

    Welcome to my carnival.

    Seriously though, I have to be happy with what I write first. If I'm not happy with it, then I will not try submitting it in hopes of getting published.

  48. Dara on June 11, 2010 at 1:43 PM

    >Being happy with it 🙂 Of course being published would mean that others are happy with it too, but even if only a few people read it, I'll be satisfied. It's more about getting the story told. Even if it meant I had to trunk it, at least I learned from it and it's always there to come back to. If I was published but wasn't happy with the book, I'm not sure how I'd feel…

  49. Carol J. Garvin on June 11, 2010 at 1:39 PM

    >Semantics leap up here to confuse the issue for me. I'm never happy with my writing; it always seems that it could and should be better. But I can be satisfied. Then, as Anonymous 1:40 said, I'd like to have both.

  50. Arabella on June 11, 2010 at 1:33 PM

    >Too bad this isn't a diner where I could order up one of each with a scoop of ice cream on the side. Then I would be really satisfied.

  51. The Alliterative Allomorph on June 11, 2010 at 1:31 PM

    >Oh my gosh, I could never do that! Of course I'd be open to changes. OF COURSE. I'm talking about being happy with the project in general, not nit-picky things like that. To be picky over one word is going beyond too far.

  52. Rachelle on June 11, 2010 at 1:26 PM

    >I've been thinking about Timothy's comment at 7:37 am. I find it interesting that an author would honestly give up an entire publishing contract (and the hope of ever having a relationship with that publisher) over one word. Of course, authors have that option. But I'm not sure I'd want to keep a client if they were to give up a contract over a single word. I'd have to think long and hard about it, because it speaks to me of ego and unreasonableness. It's also a bad business decision, especially in light of all the work the agent did to get the project sold including many hours spent reading and offering editorial input.

  53. Lucy on June 11, 2010 at 1:15 PM

    >Well, if I wasn't happy with my work, I wouldn't want my name on it in public, so I have to choose #1.

    To let a manuscript go out with changes I couldn't accept/approve/believe in? No. Absolutely, emphatically no.

    That said, I try to be reasonable, and save the big guns for the big battles.

  54. Kay Day on June 11, 2010 at 1:05 PM

    >I really think I need both. I'm not sure I CAN be happy with my work if it's not accepted. And publishing = acceptance to me.

  55. Amethyst on June 11, 2010 at 12:59 PM

    >Being happy with my work. 🙂

  56. Susan Panzica - EternityCafe on June 11, 2010 at 12:44 PM

    >My son’s college application asked the question, “Would you rather be a small fish in a big pond, or a big fish in a small pond?” He replied that he’d rather be a big fish in a big pond, and I learned that there’s more than one way to answer an either/or question.

    I write nonfiction, and my desire is to encourage and empower my reader. So for me, publication itself is not necessarily the goal, but it is certainly one avenue to reach the goal.

  57. Jen J. on June 11, 2010 at 12:42 PM

    >As gratifying as it is to hear positive feedback from someone who reads the piece that you have poured blood, sweat and tears into, it's a hollow victory if you don't like the piece yourself. I have to be happy with my own writing first; that's where my own personal satisfaction comes from and how I express myself creatively. Someone else also loving it needs to be secondary.

    Of course, I haven't been professionally published yet, but I'd like to think that that aspect of my writing life wouldn't change if or when that time comes.

  58. Harry Markov on June 11, 2010 at 12:36 PM

    >If I am to strip the drool-worthy satisfaction of having a book on the shelves of a store, I'd say being happy with what I have written.

    To be quite honest, both things are interconnected to a point. Being satisfied with my work would mean that I feel it is ready to be published and having it published would mean great satisfaction.

    But being happy with what I do will come first [if I remind myself that every day]. 😀

  59. Nicole L Rivera on June 11, 2010 at 12:22 PM

    >To me it is like the chicken and the egg. You need one to have the other. You can't not like your work and be okay with it being published, and if you love your work you want to publish it for the world to see.

  60. mary bailey on June 11, 2010 at 12:20 PM

    >Definitely being happy with my work! It's nice to boil it all down to such a simple element!

    There is a popular Christian author who I used to really enjoy. She has changed publishers and her work now is unrecognizable from the work she used to produce…and not in a good way. I wonder if she's been made to change her voice too much. I couldn't be happy in the that situation and would prefer to remain as I am…unpublished.

  61. Jessica Brown on June 11, 2010 at 12:11 PM

    >Right now, I'd like to be happy with my work. Until I am, I will not even begin to query. With the help of many new writer friends I've met on Twitter, and excellent blog posts I've found from the people I follow on Twitter, I'm getting there. I can see my work improving, and that makes me happy.

  62. Lynn Mitchell on June 11, 2010 at 12:08 PM

    >Wow. This question is a toughie!

    As a newbie happiness and published sometimes border as synonymous. I write for my own pleasure but also in the hopes my characters will be enjoyed by a wider audience. So, while I would never completely sell out my own writing style and/or voice just to be published, I am more than willing to fashion my work in a way that is appealing to the industry.

  63. sharongerlach on June 11, 2010 at 11:59 AM

    >Well, seeing as I've been writing for eons, have three completed novels–none of which are published–and I'm working on #4, planning #5 & #6…I guess I'd have to say being happy with my writing is more important to me than being published.

    Will I continue to write even if my brilliant prose never garners an agent or publishing contract? Oh yeah. It's hard-wired into me to not only love the written word, but want to fashion the written word into a world of my own making.

    Besides, the voices in my head need an outlet so that I stay of Thorazine. Just sayin.

  64. The Alliterative Allomorph on June 11, 2010 at 11:55 AM

    >I'm afraid I just wouldn't settle for one or the other. Got to have both. No doubt about it.

  65. Rachelle on June 11, 2010 at 11:53 AM

    >I love everyone's answers to this! I realize I've presented a false dichotomy; the two options are not mutually exclusive, nor are they the only options. Yet it's helpful to think it through, don't you think?

    My kids love it when I ask them questions like this, questions that make them consider all angles, for which there is no easy answer. They love playing the "would you rather" game and the whole point of it is false dichotomy. For example, I will ask them: Would you rather be the richest person in the world but have no friends, or have a wonderful group of fun & supportive friends but be dirt poor? We always have a lot of fun talking through the answers.

    Anyway, hope you're having fun with this one!

  66. ~Brenda on June 11, 2010 at 11:51 AM

    >Well I think you have to like what you've written to even think about being published. I'd never send in something I've written that I'm not satisfied with.

    But …

    I suppose being satisfied with it is more important than being published. Unless of course you're at the brink of starvation. 🙂 A lot of what I write is for my kids and grandkids to have a memory. So I don't necessarily feel the NEED to be published.

    With my novel, it's a bit of a different story. That's written for other people … and I can't help but hope that it gets published someday.

  67. Krista Phillips on June 11, 2010 at 11:25 AM

    >Both and neither:-)

    Seriously, I can be "happy" with my work all I want, but I'd be a liar if I didn't say my goal is publication. If my goal was just to please myself with my writing, then publication wouldn't be needed.

    That said, I won't publish something that I can't stand behind and be proud of either.

    In the end though, and why I said neither, may sound a little "religious" but it is the truth. The person that matters MOST, who I want to be happy with EVERYTHING I do, is Jesus. If I don't please and honor Him, then publication is empty, as is my own selfish pride in my work.

    That said, I think it would be very easy to use that as a copout for shotty writing too. "God told me to write this… I'm doing it for Him…" when it was really our own laziness that we didn't work on our craft, and really an idea that came from our own imagination, and we use God as an excuse.

  68. kathy taylor on June 11, 2010 at 11:22 AM

    >Being unhappy with something that's been published is, in my opinion, the worst scenario. Once it's in print, it can't be taken back. I'd rather be happier with my work than unhappy with someone else's.

  69. PatriciaW on June 11, 2010 at 11:19 AM

    >Both, but if I have to pick one, I'll go with being happy with it. That's not to say that it's perfect, but at least mention of said work, doesn't make one grimace, turn red, run, etc.

    So authors have to find that point at which it's not perfect, but they are happy–or maybe I should say, at peace–with their work, then move on to the next piece of writing.

  70. Don Booker on June 11, 2010 at 11:17 AM

    >Personally I think being overly attached to your work may mean that we could ignore some very sound advice. I recently finished my first novel. The word count of the first draft was over 200,000 words. It took a long time and a lot of soul searching to reduce it to what I'm happy with. (5,000 words. Saying I'm happy means that in it's present state I'd be happy to self publish in the months to come should i not be able to find an agent/publisher. But I think the opinion of those in those circles can only make it better and would listen to all advice.

  71. Angie Ledbetter on June 11, 2010 at 11:12 AM

    >Both. I have to be happy with my finished manuscript, but I also want the validation publication brings.

  72. T. Anne on June 11, 2010 at 11:06 AM

    >Writing makes me more than happy. Publishing, and having my work well received would be the icing on the cake. At the end of the day we write for others to appreciate our work.

  73. Jacqueline Windh on June 11, 2010 at 10:50 AM

    >Wow, Rachelle, that is a big, complex question. It's not a this or that, at least not for me. It's both.

    Of course I have to be happy with my work. I need to feel pride in what I do, and feel that it has some sort of worth or value. (Which is where all that revising comes in).

    More important to me than being "published" is being "read". I've had opportunities to publish pieces in very small circulation publications and I've refused, preferring to hold on to the work, and wait for either a bigger audience or the appropriate audience (especially thinking here of some of my non-fiction pieces, e.g. offers of placing an environmental piece in an enviromental magazine, where I'd be "preaching to the converted" rather than placing it where I'd be exposing people to new ideas – which was the intention of the piece).

    Both are so important to me, I could never say one or the other. The quality, and "meaningfulness" of my work are very important. But having that work read (and hopefully getting paid for it, so I can continue to call writing my job and not have to get a "real" one!) are also really important.

  74. David Jarrett on June 11, 2010 at 10:35 AM

    >This is the hardest question you have ever asked, at least for me to answer.

    I think all of us who write do it partly to leave part of us behind for succeeding generations. We want others to know that we liked the world as it was when we were here, didn't like it and were trying to change it through our writing, or didn't like it and just accepted it as unchangeable.

    I write because I enjoy the challenge of crafting a good story; because I enjoy the quiet time I have while I am doing it; because my writing keeps my brain cells functioning and helps stave off the inevitable loss of cognition that accompanies aging.

    However, I also write because I want others to hear what I have to say. I would like to entertain them with an exciting story — I also occasionally express my moral and political beliefs in the hope that some of the readers, who may have never thought of things my way, might change their minds and look at them as I do. If I am never published, this desire will never be fulfilled.

    I know I am never going to be a Faulkner or a Tolstoy. No one is ever going to say "He was a writer for the ages" about me. I would just be happy to have a reader say, "I enjoyed his book; he wrote honestly about life, and I feel that part of me is better off for having read him."

  75. Nicole on June 11, 2010 at 10:34 AM

    >Being "satisfied" with my work to play the semantics game. It's difficult to be completely "happy" with one's work without affirmation. If you'd asked is it more important to have your work respected (and I write fiction) or to have it published, I would've answered a definitive "respected" above all else.

  76. Richard Waskiewicz on June 11, 2010 at 10:31 AM

    >I seek a balance. Happiness (in writing and life in general) is not mutually exclusive of making a living. I believe the trick is to be flexible enough for publication and still hold enough integrity in your work to be happy with it. One method (for me at least) is to write short fiction once in awhile, regardless of its publishable quality. Who knows, one day it may be published – then again, maybe not. But, the result is an unfettered creative outlet that still allows me to focus on the mechanical aspects of making my WIP’s marketable without killing the enjoyment of writing.

  77. Janie Bill on June 11, 2010 at 10:25 AM

    >I want to be happy with my writing. I want to capture the same feeling as Philippa Gregory or Elizabeth Kostova but when I read their work I am utterly amazed and in awe as to how they do it. Getting published is the threshold that tells me, "yes, your writing is up to par, not because of your ego, but because of your talent." I mean, an ego can get in the way of an aspiring author and convince him that he is ready to be published when he's not.

  78. sharonbially on June 11, 2010 at 10:21 AM

    >Being happy with it. Especially in today's publishing environment. And today there are more ways than ever for good writing to reach readers.

  79. Josin L. McQuein on June 11, 2010 at 10:07 AM

    >I refuse to choose. I want both.

  80. determinedgirl on June 11, 2010 at 10:07 AM

    >At the risk of sounding trite, if God is happy, I'm happy, regardless if my work gets published. I take great joy in catching His voice moment by moment then releasing it through ink. To grow in Christ along the way — that's the pay-off.

  81. D.J. Morel on June 11, 2010 at 10:01 AM

    >Published. While individual writing sessions can make me happy, I'm never happy with the finished work itself, at least not for long. It can always be better, but eventually it comes time to let that piece go and move on. That next piece always starts with the promise that I'll be happy with it once it's finished, truly, utterly joyous with it–and then I start writing it.

    None of it will be read though, unless it gets published. Also, I have on occasion received editorial input that made my blood boil. Each time, once I got a little distance and took a deep breath, I realized that these changes were exactly what the piece needed.

  82. Posey on June 11, 2010 at 9:57 AM

    >For folks like me… who aren't even close or sure that publication is in the future it is all about the happy. 🙂

    If I were published it would be both. I see publishing as a job. You have people depending on you to get your job done. You have a commitment, a contract, responsibility. You have to find a way to have both. Art isn't something you can put out there when you are miserable, and it be as successful as it should. And at the same time you can't just not work because you aren't "feeling it."

    Just my humble opinion. 🙂

  83. Erica Vetsch on June 11, 2010 at 9:55 AM

    >I'm glad these aren't mutually exclusive.

    But I'd have to say happy doing the work. If writing didn't bring me joy and fulfilment, it sure would be a lousy way to pass the time.

  84. Sharon A. Lavy on June 11, 2010 at 9:54 AM

    >Wow, our thoughts are all over the place. I guess the real answer is: It depends.

    Most of us do not want to be hack writers. And all writers must be continually learning.

    So no one answer will fit in every situation, even for the same person.

    Thanks for a thought provoking post, Rachelle.

  85. Jen on June 11, 2010 at 9:42 AM

    Any questions?

  86. Melody on June 11, 2010 at 9:37 AM

    >Really, it is being happy with my work. I'm such a perfectionist, however, that this rarely happens 100%. Which is why publication is kind of an affirmation that I did do an excellent and worthy job. So the answer is…both. 🙂

  87. Karlene on June 11, 2010 at 9:35 AM

    >I would love to be published, but just knowing I've written a well-thought out story that people around me have enjoyed reading has been great.

    The act of writing is, on so many levels, therapeutic. Not to mention that the "voices" in my head can then become real for other people!

  88. St. Catharines, Ontario on June 11, 2010 at 9:26 AM

    >Government Funding / Research Scandal

    Visit the website that the Canadian House of Commons and numerous Universities across North America have as well.
    It's an ingenious form of white collar crime:

    PHD credentials / contacts, an expendable family, participation of a dubious core of established professionals, Unaudited Government agency funding (identity protected by Privacy Commissioner Office but revealed here), unlimited funding (under the guise of research grants), PHD individuals linked with the patient (deter liability issues), patient diagnosed with mental illness (hospital committed events = no legal lawyer access/rights), cooperation of local University and police (resources and security); note the Director of Brock Campus Security.

    This all adds up to a personal ATM; at the expense of Canadian Taxpayers!
    "convinced" to be taken to St. Catharines General hospital (2001)
    and conveniently diagnosed with a "mental illness" (hint: Hallucination type; "forced" to consume "prescribed"
    corresponding medication for "cognitive" purposes )

    Medicine Gone Bad


  89. Jonathon Arntson on June 11, 2010 at 9:25 AM

    >I am fueled by both, but it's def 80/20.

  90. Judith Mercado on June 11, 2010 at 9:10 AM

    >You mean I have to choose? Okay, I'll go for published only because that would remove the always-a-bridesmaid onus, giving me more self confidence. However, I will always aim to write well.

  91. A. Townsend on June 11, 2010 at 8:58 AM

    >The answer to those questions is more "and" than "either/or".

    If I weren't happy with my work, I wouldn't try to get it published. My novels stand on my name. The novel's reputation and mine will reflect each other, especially after they are published, so Priority One is that I must be happy with my work before I ask an agent to represent it. That said, publication is my goal.

    Thanks, Rachelle. Have a lovely weekend!

    ~ Angela

  92. Daniel F. Case on June 11, 2010 at 8:41 AM

    >Such a short, simple, uncomplicated question. Oh, if only the answer were so simple.

    I sold an article (non-fiction)to a national magazine a couple of years back. I wrote that article with the hope that it would help others with a specific life situation to avoid a serious but often ignored pitfall. In that case, publishing the article was vital. Until those in that situation can read the article, it can't fulfill its purpose. I enjoyed the check that resulted from publication, but the real payday for me was the day I heard about the letters that had come in from people whose lives had been changed as a result of reading the article. In that case, getting it published was an important part of being happy with my work. I think most non-fiction falls into that category; until it's read, it can't fulfill its purpose.

    Fiction, on the other hand, is an art form, a deeply emotional creative endeavor. For me, it is a God thing, a calling, a creative gift that I MUST express. I could take a short-cut to publication by writing things that sell but that I wouldn't be happy with, but to do so I'd have to violate the integrity of my calling. I've tried that, and it's a miserable place I never want to visit again.

    Yes, I want to be published. Make me choose, and being true to my calling but unpublished will win over publishing something that isn't right for me.

    Of course, that's not really a choice. When I write outside my calling, it reeks–and it's unpublishable, anyway.

    For me, I'll be true to my calling. If I do that, publication will come when the time is right.


  93. Scott on June 11, 2010 at 8:40 AM

    >That's easy: being happy with my work.

    I know that the best writing I ever did was when I wrote soley for myself, without a thought for a greater audience, or anything, except writing what I wanted to write. It was an absolutely freeing time.


  94. Timothy Fish on June 11, 2010 at 8:37 AM

    >As I read this post and the comments that follow, I was reminded of a blog post or a status update Richard Mabry put out while he was still in the editing stage of Code Blue. He asked whether it should be “came barreling out of nowhere” or “barreled out of nowhere.” He had written the previous and the editor wanted the latter. Those of you who have read the book know he ended up going with “The black SUV barreled out of nowhere, its oversized tires straddling the centerline.” I argued for his original wording because no one in America would use barreled as a verb in everyday speech and because doing so creates a POV shift between the first and the second sentence. I had other reasons as well, but those were the primary reasons.

    I’ve given that some thought, wondering what I would do in that situation. Unlike Richard, I would have been unwilling to let it slid and the editor would have likely received a copy of my thesis on barreled out of. I may have been able to persuade the editor to my point of view, but I’ve asked myself whether I would have been willing to walk away from the publishing contract if the editor refused to budge. As much as I would hate to do so, I’ll have to say that I would have. If the publisher insisted on publishing it anyway, I would have asked that they remove my name from the cover.

    I don’t mean to be critical of Richard’s work, but the thing is that it’s the author’s name that goes on the cover. When readers read a book and find things that don’t sound quite right such as “barreled out of nowhere” or “fisted his hand” (a pet peeve of mine from another author’s book) it may have been the editor who inserted this “correction” but it’s the author that the reader is going to point to and say “I can write better than that, so why won’t publishers publish my work?” We all make mistakes and some of those mistakes will make it into the published work, but if I know of a mistake and it is a choice between allowing the mistake or not being published publication will take a backseat to my being satisfied with the work.

  95. Marcia on June 11, 2010 at 8:36 AM

    –Many will feel obligated to say "being happy with your work."
    –Being happy with your work, in most cases, precedes publication or even submission.
    –Being happy with your work may be the more important during your pre-published and early-published career.

    But now my answer is getting it published. Not every writer is 100% happy with their work by the time it hits bookshelves between two covers. A lot happens to it along the way, and any mistakes you made are now more noticeable to you because you're looking at the book in a new form. What matters at this point is whether the book serves the audience it was meant for. Never moving past the "just so I'm happy with it" stage means never moving past writing for self. It's more the hobbyist's view. To make my writing more than self-indulgence or a pretty hobby, I need to get published and serve the reader.

  96. Alicia Blade on June 11, 2010 at 8:36 AM

    >Publication, but not because of the money. For me it's all about sharing the story and having readers fall in love with my characters like I have. I want to give readers the same thrill, escape, romance that my favorite writers have given me.

    Can't do that without publication.

    (That said, I do agree with the commenters about Option C – both!)

  97. Shannon on June 11, 2010 at 8:27 AM

    >I absolutely would side with personal satisfaction over being published. This doesn't make the two mutually exclusive (hopefully) and I'd be willing to make compromises for a publishing contract. After all, I don't mind revising! But I can also be content with spiral binding works that just didn't sell.

    Oh yeah, for those who love their works but realize they're not going to sell anytime soon, keep a hard copy. I learned the hard way how digital media doesn't withstand the test of time.

  98. MJR on June 11, 2010 at 8:15 AM

    >I think being happy with my work is more important. If a publisher agreed to publish novel #2, I would say no. I'm a better writer now and I wouldn't want that practice novel in print!

  99. dsmith77 on June 11, 2010 at 8:15 AM


    Money (getting published) can't buy happiness. But happines doesn't pay the bills either. Humans need both to live. It's all about balance.

  100. patriciazell on June 11, 2010 at 8:08 AM

    >For me, getting published is most important because I believe what I have to share can really help people grab a hold of God's absolute love and find their answers from Him. Since I'm writing my book on my blog and since I check my site statistics, I know people are already reading what I write. The biggest benefit of being published will be the bigger pool of available readers.

  101. Teenage Bride on June 11, 2010 at 8:07 AM

    >I think that being happy with your work is more important. I am so proud of myself for completing my non-fiction work and I know that I will look back on it for years to come and still be proud. I hope hope hope that I will be able to get it published but for now, it gives me tremendous joy to have completed something that I set out to do.

  102. Amy Sue Nathan on June 11, 2010 at 7:49 AM

    >I've published a lot of non-fiction essays and articles and some short pieces of fiction. That's what I want. To be published.

    I find that questions like this are only asked of creative people. You wouldn't ask a doctor if it was enough that he or she had the knowledge to help/reach others but was the knowledge and talent enough? No, of course its not.

    Writing makes me happy, but if I didn't want to publish, I'd probably just keep a journal and write poems for my friends' birthdays.

  103. Sarah Forgrave on June 11, 2010 at 7:38 AM

    >Hmm, I'm looking for option C that says "both". 🙂

    In the end, being happy with my work trumps getting it published. If an editor said they liked my work but they wanted to change a major component that's important to me, I'd have to think long and hard about whether that's the right publisher for me. Then again, they are the experts about what will sell to the market, so a little humility and teachability might be in order.

  104. Shelby on June 11, 2010 at 7:37 AM

    >depends on who you ask, of course..

    me – being happy with my work. no question.

  105. Wendy Paine Miller on June 11, 2010 at 7:36 AM

    >Digging my work. Hands down.
    ~ Wendy

  106. magolla on June 11, 2010 at 7:32 AM

    >For years, my goal had been getting my work published. When I switched genres, I realized that the reason I wasn't happy had nothing to do with the publication issue, but in the fact that I was writing in the wrong genre.

    I found my voice in MG and I'm happy writing my stories. This doesn't mean that I'm not trying to get published, I am. Shoot, I have over 80 agent rejections for my MG story (a few R's were from requested material), but I still love that story–in fact, I reread it again before sending it on its way to a requesting publisher.

    The answer for me is that I'm happy with my work.

  107. Rondi Olson on June 11, 2010 at 7:19 AM

    >Right now publication is definitely the most important thing, but I have noticed the more I put into getting published, the happier I am with my writing.

  108. Lynne Connolly on June 11, 2010 at 7:15 AM

    >Since I wrote for a serious hobby for many years, with no thought of publication, that answer is easy.
    The work, always the work.
    Even when you are published, it's not as if writing is the biggest paying gig in the world, so you really have to love what you do.
    And, yes, you might never get published, so enjoy the journey. It's not wasted, never wasted. Think of Van Gogh, who sold one painting in his lifetime. If he'd been in it for the money we'd never have had those gorgeous sunflowers.

  109. Vicki Rocho on June 11, 2010 at 7:12 AM

    >I can't imagine publishing something I wasn't completely happy with. Isn't that like standing in Times Square in your underwear?

  110. Marla Taviano on June 11, 2010 at 6:54 AM

    >Oooh, GREAT question. I was just talking with a new (and very insightful) friend yesterday about my latest project, and she asked me that same thing.

    I'm still working through the answer.

  111. Terri Tiffany on June 11, 2010 at 6:36 AM

    >Oh my. You just stepped into my life. Exactly the conversation my CPs and I had yesterday. Do I write what might have the best chance to sell even if it means changing what I believe to be good characters or go with what my gut says and chance never being published? Looking for a good middle ground.

  112. tim on June 11, 2010 at 6:25 AM

    >Sounds more like a question of: do you write for enjoyment or do you write for money?

    I've always done the former. Being published would be great, but the satisfaction comes from actually writing.

  113. Laura Pauling on June 11, 2010 at 6:15 AM

    >I know some very successful authors that aren't happy – so publishing doesn't all of a sudden bring joy to your life. (Okay, maybe for a bit, but nothing lasting.) That said, I've been questioning what it means to stay true to myself. And I don't think there's anything wrong with being flexible and changing genre or style or content to a certain degree. I might be pleasantly surprised. We all have the line we shouldn't cross. And that's personal.

  114. Lisa Jordan on June 11, 2010 at 6:09 AM

    >It's important for me to be happy with my work. Otherwise, I wouldn't submit it for publication. However, I'd want both. I'm writing with the ultimate goal of being a published author.

  115. beth on June 11, 2010 at 5:53 AM

    >It's the same thing for me: I won't be happy until I'm published.

    I wrote for ten years, always with the goal of publication. Now that I have a book deal that affords me the opportunity to write full time, I'm happy. Before that, I wasn't.

    I suppose it's the difference between people who like to jog, and those who like to win races. Some just like the feeling of running, but some are only running in order to build stamina and strength to win.

  116. Katie Ganshert on June 11, 2010 at 5:52 AM

    >Here's the thing. In my mind, getting published comes hand-in-hand with being happy with what I've produced. Now, if God were to take out the happy, as in I could only have either happiness OR publication….well, then….what would be fun about being published if I were miserable about what I'd created? I think that would cause major stress. Everyday I'd be freaking out because my stuff is actually out there, in readers' hands, only I'm not happy with it. How disconcerting!

  117. Tori on June 11, 2010 at 5:46 AM

    >It's gotta be being happy with my work. If an agent wanted me to change what I felt was the heart and soul of the book in order to get it published I just couldn't do it. Not if it meant my book would have no meaning to it that I loved.

    If, however, I was only unhappy for awhile then realized all the important things would still be in place…I would say getting it published.

    It all really depends on the situation really. But honestly happiness is a big thing for me.

    And I have to make this clear: I am not one of those writers that would make a big deal about everything. I'm fine with changing the plot, characters, ect. of a book. One thing I would have trouble with though is the theme.

    I really want to be published, but not more than I want to be thrilled with what I have written.

    That is my short answer.

  118. Cecelia Dowdy on June 11, 2010 at 5:22 AM

    >There's no question abou this one for me…getting it published. I'm not happy with my work until I see it in print…but that's just me, I know that others may feel differently.

  119. Kelly Freestone on June 11, 2010 at 4:57 AM

    >At first I felt as though it wouold be a hard decision, but really, once I think about it:
    I'd rather be satisfied with my work!
    Publishing is just something that eventually, IF you're working hard enough may come…
    but what's publishing compared to the love of writing?
    I never thought I'd be good enough…but then I learned that I could GROW!!!
    That's so exciting!
    And eventually, pushing through the slush, I'd make it. 🙂
    Thanks for the posing question.
    It helps me focus better on what's more important.

  120. Andrea K Host on June 11, 2010 at 4:47 AM

    >It's not an either/or question. You can, after all, be happy about your work AND be published. Or be unhappy about your work and be published. Or any variation.

    It's not a question of importance. To write, and to be read (rather than published) are two related but separate experiences.

  121. Kristi Faith on June 11, 2010 at 4:26 AM

    >Great question! I feel like being happy with my writing is better than being published and I only recently realized I felt this way. I wrote my nano-novel and loved it. I put it aside for a bit and went through other things. Every time I go to it, I hate it. Really. Hate. Even though I wanted to shop it, there's no way I could because I dread opening and reading the document. I've moved on….

  122. tessaquin on June 11, 2010 at 4:24 AM

    >Great. I talk about how I need to be happy with my work, and somehow my paragraph gets split up. Sorry about that.

  123. tessaquin on June 11, 2010 at 4:23 AM

    >I would never send out work that I wasn't completely happy with. That's why I'll start querying after a month or so, instead of
    a year ago – or even a month ago, when I still wasn't completely happy.

    The manuscript has gone through serious changes, ones that include deleting whole chapters and a lot of rewriting. My friends are rereading the manuscript now, and it's hardly recognizable.

    Of course the ultimate goal is to get published, so that's very important too. I want writing to be my occupation and I need to get published to do that. This is why I'm trying out for the American market and not the Icelandic one (very small readership = only a handful of writers here can live on their royalties).

  124. JamesBrett on June 11, 2010 at 3:24 AM

    >i may be unusual in that i regularly read your blog, rachelle, yet have never tried (nor do i have plans) to publish anything i've written. so my obvious answer is that i prefer to, myself, be happy with my work.

    however, i do have an idea for a book; and i intend to one day write that book. i'd like to say some things that might be helpful to others. regarding these ideas, the book being published may be more important to me than my being happy with it. [along those same lines, if someone writes said book before me, i won't feel inclined to myself write on the subject.]

    i see three reasons it might be more important to publish than to be happy with what you've written:

    1. you make a living by writing.
    2. you honestly believe your book will help people.
    3. you are egocentric and chase accomplishment.

  125. Melissa Emerald on June 11, 2010 at 2:51 AM

    >No question about it. Getting my writing published is more important than being happy with my writing.


    My background is journalism. That means I've learned to write for readers, editors and publishers, not my own self-satisfaction. It's what professional writers do–at least those of us who have not reached the superstar status of Stephen King.

    There's nothing wrong with a strong-willed writer whose art takes precedence over all else, so long as he understand that his refusal to make changes could result in an editor's refusal to publish his manuscript.

  126. Malin on June 11, 2010 at 2:45 AM

    >I think this question is missing out on an answer – there are other alternatives in my eyes. Lately, I've not been happy with writing unless someone enjoys the results. So, what's most important for me (at the moment – it hasn't always been like that) is that someone reads my work. Whether that is in published way or by me sending it in an email or putting it online is of little importance. However, publishing seem to me the best way for me to reach people that can enjoy my writing and therefore inspire me to keep writing.

    People tell me (in more or less subtle ways) that I'm desperate for others' approval, and that this is a bad thing. But is it bad to want an interaction with the reader? I don't want to exist in a vacuum. (No [wo]man is an island, right?)

  127. Anonymous on June 11, 2010 at 2:40 AM

    >Q: Why can't we have both?

  128. Donna Hole on June 11, 2010 at 2:33 AM

    >I like to think I write solely because it makes me happy. (And it does.) I've often thought I want to be published more than anything in the world.

    Yet, when I've had feedback to change my story into something others think would sell better in today's market, I politely say thanks for the advice, and keep my concept true to my original vision. I'm not opposed to change – man, have there been load of changes based on feedback – but it all further's my ideal concept.

    So, I guess I write to please myself; and hope someday the market changes and wants what I'm writing. Hey, I have a day job, and a retirement plan; I can wait.


  129. Jojomama on June 11, 2010 at 2:29 AM

    >Important…for what?
    Being happy with my work is important to be able to stick with it and find fulfillment.
    Getting published is important if I want to share it with a wide audience and make a little money from it. And to be "successful" in other people's opinion.

  130. Ted Cross on June 11, 2010 at 1:50 AM

    >How are we to answer that? I wouldn't be happy getting published with something I didn't love, but on the other hand I am truly happy with the book I have written while being unhappy that it isn't yet published.

  131. Julie Jordan a.k.a. @Writers_Cafe on June 11, 2010 at 1:44 AM

    >As an unpublished newbie, I have to think long and hard about this question.
    Is it the publishing in the traditional sense? In a way, I suppose it is because that indicates a success previously unknown – an acceptance against unbelievable odds. But will I be happy about what I feel about my story if I cave in and let it be edited into something I barely recognize? I don't think so.
    I know that I may have to resort to self-pubbing to actually see this book in print (first manuscripts are rarely accepted), and sticking by my guns to stay happy about the story as I wrote it.
    If I sell out now, just to see my name in a bookstore, the agents and publishers may collectively may me packing. Then, it will be self-pub or no-pub.
    So, is it acceptance by the brotherhood, or self-pub? As Weronika said above, "Obviously this question goes much deeper, so I'll also say that I could never be happy with myself as a writer and artist if I didn't spend as much time as deserved on a project of mine."
    Thanks to Weronika for saying it so well. But, it isn't a time spent on the WIP, entirely. It's the satisfaction if seeing my name in print, on a book I labored endless hours over. Is that worth selling myself short – turning away from the gold ring? Or is it 'publish, no matter what'?
    For me, the unpublished newbie, it has to be some of each. Like so many, seeing my name in print and being accepted is good, but the story and the time spent on it has significant value, too.

  132. girlgeum on June 11, 2010 at 1:43 AM

    >Being happy with my work.

    Why do we write? To please ourselves or to please hopeful readers/publishers?

    Does it depends on what is our initial aim?

  133. Sandy Shin on June 11, 2010 at 1:27 AM

    >Being happy with my work.

    Getting published would be nice, but, quite frankly, if I weren't happy with the work, I wouldn't try getting it published. 🙂

  134. memacphe on June 11, 2010 at 1:24 AM

    >Though both are important, getting published especially for financial reasons, I would say the most important thing is being happy with your work. If you don't love what you write, why would someone else? You have to love it and be happy with it if you are willing to put your ass on the line for it. There is no alternative. Being happy with your work will reflect on it.

  135. Nikki Hootman on June 11, 2010 at 1:23 AM

    >I have a "day job" writing nonfiction, and I had to confront this question almost as soon as I started work. There is always someone above me, who likes my work but has the final say in what goes and what doesn't. If he objected to a particular word or sentence and I said, "No! I like what I've written and I won't change it for you!" then I wouldn't have a job for very long.

    At first this made me unhappy, having to "capitulate," but then I realized I had another option. To come back with something which he would approve of AND which I was satisfied with and proud of. I decided when he didn't like something I did, I would change it – but I'd make it better.

    There's never just one way to say or write something. It can always be made different. It can always be better. Just because I have to change something to get it published doesn't mean I give up pride in my work.

  136. Bailish on June 11, 2010 at 1:20 AM

    >I'd agree with WJ. If I published something that was not as good as other writers were publishing, I wouldn't have any feeling of satisfaction. When I publish, I want it to be because I deserve it, not because I found a back door to publishing.

  137. E.D. Lindquist on June 11, 2010 at 1:19 AM

    >Being happy and enjoying my writing, of course! It can be a difficult decision… part of the reason I have ultimately decided to self-publish some of my work is because I'd rather spend my time writing than querying.

    This isn't because I believe that agents just don't get me, nor does it mean that I don't query. But I have a set limit. After 25 queries, I put my project aside, work on something else, then come back. After a couple of reads, if I decide it's still worth publishing, I self-publish it on my fiction site. After those 25 queries, I don't worry about publishing anymore, not in the tradition sense.

    This way, everything that I create has a potential home. If I (and my coauthor as well as my editor) love the work, it will see the light of day.

    Of course, that I've self-published at all may seal my fate. I may labor in obscurity for the rest of my life, but that's fine. I've got a small community of readers who comment, critique and talk to me. I love it. I don't regret a moment of it.

    Please, please don't take this to mean I reject agents or anything like that! It only means that I've found a happy place for myself in my little corner of the Internet and I'm glad of my decision.

  138. Weronika Janczuk on June 11, 2010 at 1:11 AM

    >There's really no question for me here – the thing that will always come first is the feeling of happiness, satisfaction, and pride.

    I know both from "professional" experience, per se, that individuals who try to do it faster are rarely the ones that make it big or are remembered, and I know from personal experience that, if within a month I am too embarrassed to look back on a past draft, it was way too early to go out with it.

    Obviously this question goes much deeper, so I'll also say that I could never be happy with myself as a writer and artist if I didn't spend as much time as deserved on a project of mine.