The average reading speed is 250 words per minute. Someone commits suicide once every 40 seconds. That means that, about every 167 words, someone looks around at the world we’ve made for ourselves and decides: “Nah. Tried it. Not for me.”
Especially as a writer, I think about this a lot: if a novel is about 50,000 words long, that’s 300 people on the dot. I don’t like admitting it, but the biggest individual reason I write is to avoid Hardy’s second death—the last time any living soul says your name.
For every novel written, 300 people who came before us looked at the evidence available to them and decided that the threat of their second death was less terrifying than trying to live through a life that avoids it. Every manuscript is an egotistical power grab at being one of the ~0.3% of people who get to buy one single lottery ticket to beat the odds and to be remembered.
What does that say about me?