Working a 'regular' job generally means that you do a little bit of work for incremental rewards that sync up with time spent at daily endeavors. Working as an independent or self-published writer provides the opposite experience. You will work long hours and you won't see any reward until the process is complete. The incremental rewards lie within the task and the feelings one acquires as they grow as a person and a creative.
The most obvious reward is the content one creates. When you look over at a stack of manuscripts, thoughts, world building, designs, poems, and impressions you've collected, there's a feeling. It is more than a pile of printouts and moleskines you've filled with things that came from your own mind, or through the observances of your own senses.
It is validation of your own creativity, proof you exist, and echoes of that existence. Like no other animal or organism on earth, we make a record of things that allow us to proceed as a species. I still don't think that it is the calling of a few. Everyone should write.
There's a difference when reading a book, watching a movie, or playing a video game when one has learned to appreciate the content and work that went into it. To create is to appreciate the creation of others and to connect with those people. This isn't to say you must paint with oils to appreciate a painting done in that medium, but it certainly enhances your understanding of all that went into a particular work.
I fight the urge to give things intrinsic value, but I can never deny the same to the person or people behind what created those things. To have someone, an organization, or yourself benefit from what you create doesn't mean those things were really valuable. It's the creator that is valuable, something that copyright laws and governmental attempts to prevent piracy fails to take into consideration.
It's the reason some of my favorite creations have been ruined. Not because the creations weren't protected or even appreciated, but because the creator was marginalized and ignored. How many of the greatest creative people have been recognized as such long after their deaths? Old hat.
I think about it more often now, particularly when someone wants to put something I've done on a t-shirt or coffee cup. I get asked to use my dabbler-rank illustration skills to help noble causes only on occasion, but I'm always glad to try and add my own value to things that are already priceless. December was one of those times, and I surprised myself with the work I produced.
It was good timing. I will need a little extra confidence for what's to come in 2013.