I reposted my answer here, because what the hell....
Writing novels is a chore, I find. It's hard work. It's mentally exhausting work. I disagree to the bone and marrow with Orson Scott Card's politics, but I have to agree with him when he says that writing is a self-exhaustive act. Everything one puts on the paper, if one is honest in one's work, is squeezed out one's soul and intellect and creativity, refined to the purest form through hard work and concentration, and committed to paper--where it faces rejection, bad reviews, and remaindering. *g*
And the thing is, if I'm going to be good at it, there's no pretending that it doesn't really matter to me. There's no armor. There's no sang froid. There's no 'good enough,' and there's no 'off days.' I do it, and I do it to the absolute best of my ability, and if it's not good enough then it's just not good enough because I wasn't good enough.
I can't ever pretend I could do better. Because what's on the paper is my absolute level Sisyphean best. And there will, still, always, be people who hate it, no matter how hard I try.
So we armor ourselves with concepts like target audience and misunderstood geniushood, because those are the concepts that *can* defend us, somewhat.
And that's scary as hell. And it brings me up hard against my inner critic, and some days getting the words on paper is like squeezing blood from a collapsed vein.
But I do it anyway, because I gotta.
I managed to quit writing for three years once; I went back to it after I had one of those peak experiences they talk about where you realize that if you don't do it now, you may never get to do it.
I do it because it's in me, and I have stories to tell, and because I'm good at it and getting better.
And because it's how I define myself. I'm a writer. It's what I am.
...and then of course, because it is the best job in the world:
Why I Love Being A Writer, by Neil Gaiman