I've heard people say you should write for yourself, only. That the art is the most important thing, and if you're considering the audience and publishing and etc., it's akin to selling out. The basic idea seems to be that it doesn't matter what other people think of your work, it doesn't matter if anyone every reads/hears/sees it, as long as you said what you had to say.
I don't think that's true.
I had something I'd been turning over in my head for nearly two days, and not really making any progress in sorting it out. Writing in my journal (the pen'n'paper personal one, not this one) maybe clarified things a little, but still... Then I called up my best friend, and I talked about it with her for no more than 15 minutes, and even though she didn't advise or argue, it all made a lot more sense, and it hasn't bugged me since.
Thoughts and ideas--they don't seem quite as real until they've been communicated to someone else. Something in the space between makes them more concrete, so you can pick them up and turn them over and fiddle with them, if need be. Sometimes I think in conversations, because things are clearer when I'm imagining talking about them with someone else, than when it's just me. Whenever I sit down with the pen'n'paper journal, no matter how personal the thing I'm writing is, I wonder if someday I might be able to show it to someone.
Art is not much different than conversation. Some people seem to forget that the reason for art was to communicate. Story-tellers spinning myths and legends and cultural histories; artists depicting their tribe's greatest hunts; chants to call on the gods for rain or luck. The art was in communicating well, and with power.
That is why it's important to me, and I think to many of us, to be published. Not for fame or riches (though no one's denying those would be nice ;)); for the knowing that I've been received. That what I've said has been heard. A meaning has been made there outside my own head. Until then, the story isn't really alive.
That's also why I'm writing this when I should really be getting ready to go to work. So you will hear. :)