” . . . the sheer joy of maximum effort for the sake of excellence.” Boy, there’s a noble idea. And when it comes to writing fiction (for some reason “maximum effort” doesn’t seem to resonate me when it comes to poetry), I understand it.
I think it goes back to the idea of enjoying writing. Working hands-on with a chosen medium which is, in our case, language. And making the time spent the end in itself. Nice if a novel or story turns up, but not essential.
I’ve probably said this before: language likes to be honored for itself and not just just for what it can do. For instance, nouns don’t always like to line up with a lot of other words to make a sentence. Nouns sometimes prefer to hang out in front of the convenience store and let adjectives try to bum cigarettes. Sure, it’s tempting to hook up with some verbs when those tool up in a convertible. But sometimes they prefer only the company of their peers. Pizza crusts at their feet, beholden to no one and nothing.