I think I may be in the minority here. I don't want to be a career novelist. As in, I don't want it to be the source of food on the table, roof over my head, money for my retirement. The very idea makes me uncomfortable. I'm getting a degree in history, and hopefully going on to work in the law. That's what I want to do. I'm very practical. I'm getting an education in these areas because I intend to use it. I did not fight my parents for months on end to get a degree in history only to end up throwing it away for writing. I love my major. I love the track I'm on now.
I've written for years on things I knew would never see the light of day. It didn't bother me. I was fine and dandy writing fanfiction, and I suspect if I'm not published, I'd be fine and dandy doing it still. But I don't want it to be my job. Because I like it being a sort of...extremely passionate hobby. When you make your hobby your job, it invariably changes. There's no getting around it. You look at it differently. You have to think about whether your next novel sells, because if it doesn't, you won't get a paycheck. You're on a hardcore timeline for when you need to turn out drafts. And you have all day to write.
All day to write. Does that sound cool to you? It sounds cool for about three days. When I have an infinite amount of time to write, you know how long it takes for me to turn out a chapter? An infinite amount of time. If I have two hours, you know how long it takes? Two hours. Don't ask me why. Maybe I have psychological time-management issues. But that's the way it is. That's why it's so hard for me to get my butt in gear in the summer.
Now, don't get me wrong. I want to get published. I want to continue publishing lots and lots of books. I want to have a NYT bestseller (it's a blatant lie if you're a writer, and you can't admit in the secret, darkest corners of your ambitious heart that you want to hit a bestseller list of some sort). I want to be good, and I take it seriously. I'm trying super hard to be good and improve. I want to be see my name in print before I die.
However, there are a lot of things I want to do before I die. Get married, have kids, go to an Ivy League school, live in Seattle, go to Europe, Australia, go parachuting, you know. Publication is just another goal on that list. A big goal, highlighed and underlined in red, but just another goal, nonetheless.
Even if I don't ever get published, I'll continue to write. I write because I love it. If I don't get published, I'll still love writing. If you don't become a professional book reviewer, will you stop reading? Same idea.
It's interesting to see what different people want out of their writing. It's important to know what you want, regardless. Have you thought about this lately?