What does this have to do with writing? Not much. Because many very worthy things in life are not transactional.
I have the dubious honor of sending admissions decisions to the students who apply for the academic program I work for. I really, really hate it. Why? Because of how many people I have to tell "no." How many "denied" stamps I dole out. The most frustrating part of the whole thing is how many applicants view their admission as a transactional endeavor. "Well, I've been paying to go to school for three semesters. I've been taking classes." Yes--but you can put in and still not get out. You can take classes and even work hard and not get good grades. You can apply and not be accepted. It's not transactional.
Even theologically-speaking--last night at Bible study we were chatting about prayer, and expectations--and how we often view prayer in a transactional environment. I pray, I expect, I receive. Except--prayer and God are not transactional. God, I believe, answers prayer, but not in the same way you pay for a latte. Prayer is not the beverage counter at Starbucks. Academic and job applications are not a five and dime.
Neither is writing. I think this is what's so hard to deal with about the writing life--any art. You don't always get out, transactionally-speaking, what you put in. It's not fair. It's full of ambiguity. You could spend years writing brilliant, beautiful novels and never--never once--get a publisher interested. You could smack together something at the right time and create a bestseller. For motivated, goal-oriented people, it's scary. There are not necessarily goal points to meet.
So why do you write, if there's no promise of a shiny outcome? Why not spend that time in something with more definite markers of success? I have my answers--because I can't not write, because even if I can't expect particular outcomes, I sure can hope for them and work for them.
What are yours? Or--maybe I'm wrong. Would you say that creating art is transactional--that if you're not finding success it's because you're not putting the right things in?
PS This is definitely not meant as a rant-y life isn't fair post! Just a general musing :)