Publishing is not the purpose of writing. But it is often the gateway that allows authors to more fully pursue it. Not always, but becoming published often makes writing full-time economically feasible.
So rather than a purpose, I would call it a stepping-stone. Because it’s the first major stepping-stone, I think it gets a lot of undue attention – to the point where we’re asking these questions at all.
But on the other hand, I don’t think writing without the goal of becoming published is a misuse of talent or purpose – it all comes down to what place you want writing to have in your life (some people are satisfied to keep writing as a hobby their whole lives), and may even be effected by what time in your life it is. A young mother of four tumbling tots probably shouldn’t be actively seeking publication. In the same way, a struggling young father shouldn’t pass up a better job that will financially stabilize his family just so he can keep the free time to write and actively seek publication. There are first-order things that take priority in our lives, and writing is not one of them. God hasn’t expressly told me to write stories for His glory, but He has expressly told me to provide for my family and to love my wife as Christ loved the church (not that I currently possess either wife or children). And if I am faithful in those things, God will bless my other endeavors.
Writing may be the particular gifting that God has given me, but it still comes in as a second-level thing for me.
There’s a difference, I think, between balancing one’s priorities rightly, and ignoring (or misusing) God-given talent. The first takes into account a broader perspective of life, and never lets go of the talent itself; while the second is wilful neglect.
Hope summed it up really well in the last sentence of her comment.
I don’t know if you read the topic about Writing for Money Alone, but we had a good discussion there that touched some of the same questions that you brought up here. 🙂
myths don't die