What Are the Draws and Drawbacks of Success for Writers?

Mohsin Hamid in The New York Times:

Bookends-Mohsin-Hamid-tmagSFWriting fiction is, in many ways, like a religion. It is a daily practice, a way of life, a set of rituals, an orientation toward the universe. It is a communion with the intangible, a bridge between the finite and infinite. There’s a reason religions use stories to communicate, and it’s the same reason religions persecute storytellers: Stories are powerful. They are how we make sense of what cannot be known. So imagine a situation in which you were paid to pray, and in which a few of the devout were given huge payouts for their devotion. This does happen. It corrupts religions. And it corrupts writers too. In the words of the poet Jalaluddin Rumi: “If you want money more than anything, / you’ll be bought and sold. / If you have a greed for food, / you’ll be a loaf of bread. / This is a subtle truth: / whatever you love, you are.”

It’s a radical thought, but I wonder whether in some way we professional fiction writers might be better off if, like poets of old, we were to make nothing from our writing and had to earn our living elsewhere. Radical or not, it’s how most writers actually live today, working their day jobs, and writing — unpaid, alone, with passion — at night.

More here.