Three months ago after countless revisions to my novel I put it away, mostly out of frustration. It didn't seem to be going anywhere and attempts to sell it failed. Worse still I got angry, mostly with myself for wasting my time writing stories when there are many other things I could be doing. I've been focusing on writing only because I had a belief that I could write well and get something published. But without having any publishing credits to my name, it was getting hard to maintain that belief.
I suppose this was a crisis of faith in myself and my skills. So I devised a test. I set out to write a short story and see if I could get it published. If I could then I would know that I had the skills I needed. If I couldn't, I'd quit and stop deluding myself.
But where to target the story. Well, as it happens, I know someone on Facebook who advertised that any story sent to him would be published. So I set out on my quest and began writing.
I put all my skills into the effort and spent weeks writing and polishing. Finally, I finished it at the end of May and sent it to him. He liked. He liked it a lot, except for the ending. I shared my success, limited, as it was, with others. Then a strange thing happened.
Nothing in my life changed.
I was sure it would. All I needed was one success and I would change the world. Fame and fortune were mine I just need to publish. People would sit up and take notice of me. I would be somebody.
I don't know where I got any of these ideas but they were in my head. And turns out they are all completely false. The only people taking notice of me are the people reading my blog (a growing audience it seems but nothing to change the world). I sighed, laughed at myself for being foolish, and moved on.
The only thing this experience showed me is that I should trust my writing instincts. So I've gone back to my novel now and re-read it. I've revised weak scenes, clarified vague passages, and am getting ready to try selling it again to another publisher.
Moral: Don't try to change the world. Just write the best stories you can.
P.S. If anyone is interested in reading the story I wrote, send me some mail or post a comment and I'll share the URL.