Every time, every time I submit something I'm absolutely sure it's going to be rejected. I'm a hack and I'm proud of my hackness. I've been told by a professional (associate) editor that it would be years before I was writing at a professional level.
But, I've had 3 short stories published by the same online 'zine and they're a pretty big venue (and very well-respected for the most part). Yes, they're a nonpaying venue, but do I give a rip? Nope. I'm gaining a reputation there.
Every single time I get something published out there wherever by whomever for whatever I'm putting my stories out there to entertain people and more people are getting to know me and my writing. That means that eventually people will start to watch for stuff I write - and maybe even buy it now and then.
Every time I get something published I think of that editor and say to myself "See what you missed, a$$hole? You tried to discourage me and to extinguish my career before it had even started. This is my payback for that."
Starting small and working up? I can live with that. Starting and stopping altogether? No way. I have been writing since I was in my pre-teens. I'm now past 50. I've published a buttload of non-fiction in various venues, but I've never had a story or novel professionally published. I might never see that happen. Does that mean I'm going to stop writing?
Not just "No", but "Hell, no!"
Just the mention that I'm going to self e-publish a book this July made an acquaintance of mine at my day job happy. He's as anxious about seeing the book come out as I am (which surprised the daylights out of me) and he's happier about it than I am because there is a great deal of trepidation I feel about this particular venture.
But he's going to tell 2 people and they;re going to tell 2 people and so on and so forth.
My writing's going to make someone else happy. It already has and that person hasn't even read the book yet.
Yours will too - if you stick to it long enough.
It's hard. It's dirty. It's cutthroat, and it's inefficient - but if you've got the bug for writing you cannot ever lay it down.
If you can walk away, you should. But think about those people you might disappoint, those people who will never be delighted just to hear that you have a story or book about to come out.
Can you walk away from them?
It is a wonderful thing to be able to inspire delight, anticipation, and yes, hunger, in another human being with your imagination.
So, when discouragement and depression, and rejection get you down, remember the guy I told you about above. He could be anyone you know. He could be a lot of people you know. You have stories to tell. Tell them and forget about everything else.
You may not be a master today, but who is? It takes years to become a master in any field. Be a hack instead and tell stories that delight and entertain and thrill.