I think it’s completely normal for writers to have an inferiority complex about their writing. An artist is his own worst critic and most writers, especially early writers, don’t know if what they’ve done is any good. Their friends like it but what if it’s just because they like the writer and don’t want to let them down?
Surely there has to be someone who says “Yes, this is good enough. Congratulations, you’re a professional.”
There isn’t, though. There’s no certificate, no plaque, nothing that says you are no longer an amateur except to sell the things that you’ve written. The line from professional to amateur is when you start making money, and that applies to most professions.
Even though I know that, I occasionally want to apologize for not having sold more of my writing; for daring to put myself out there and saying “My work is worth paying for” and charging for it. The little voice in the back of my head keeps saying “if you were really a writer, you would have been published when you were sixteen, you would have worked harder to sell those stories you wrote. Anything you do now is just faking it.”
And it’s all true, except it’s not. I could tell you exactly why I stopped writing for pleasure for years and didn’t dare submit anything anywhere. It had very little to do with the amount of skill I had and everything to do with a very bruised ego. It took me years to realize that and more years to realize that I had to write. It took me even longer to take the first tentative steps to submit stories to publishers.
Yes, I do actually send short stories out for consideration when I feel I have something that would fit the market. However, I also tend to write things that don’t really fit the traditional markets. And that’s ok. Ten years ago, I would have acted like I felt like a rebel but secretly cried myself to sleep because I’d been rejected by the popular kids. Now, I just shrug and put it up on Amazon. There is a market for what I write and I can tell because I’ll get sales out of the blue when I spend 90% of my time not marketing.
I’m in this for the long haul but sometimes it feels like I’m rushing to catch up to my potential and I get so scattered by trying to do to many things at once. I have to remember that I have at least another 30 years, barring a major disaster, and hopefully another 30 beyond that. There’s time for me to finish everything and it’s definitely time for me to start acting like a professional.