Many, many years ago, a man named Walt Disney made a movie about an elephant. Most everyone has seen it - I hope - and most folks know that Dumbo was an elephant that could fly because he had these REALLY BIG ears. And, well, he could just fly. How cool is that?
Anyway, some well meaning blackbirds and a mouse convinced Dumbo that, in order to fly, he needed a black feather. He didn't. He just needed to believe in himself.
Sometimes writers, both working and aspiring, cling to their black feathers, often when they're faced with failure. They brandish their feather and lay blame somewhere else. It's difficult to believe in yourself, it's a lot easier to believe in the feather, or fault things that render the feather impotent.
"I'm convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing. If one is writing for one's own pleasure, that fear may be mild -- timidity is the word I've used here. If, however, one is working under deadline -- a school paper, a newspaper article, the SAT writing sample -- that fear may be intense. Dumbo got airborne with the help of a magic feather; you may feel the urge to grasp a passive verb or one of those nasty adverbs for the same reason. Just remember before you do that, Dumbo didn't need the feather: the magic was in him."
My critique group sucks!
I can't find a critique group!
I write perfectly! Don't need a critique group!
I write too big for genre!
I write too niche for genre!
I'm too original for these small minds!
I write too cozy for these highbrows!
They're all crooks anyway!
My book's worth a million dollars!
My cover art sucks!
My cover art doesn't fit my story!
How-to-write books are all wrong!
How-to-write books say this is the way!
How-to-write books disagree!
My agent dropped the ball!
My editor doesn't give me enough time!
Writing well is all about following the rules!
Writing has nothing to do with the rules!
I had shitty distribution!
I hate first person but that's all they buy!
I hate third person but that's all they buy!
Marketing didn't advertise it!
No one understands my brilliance!
I deserve to be published!
Reviewers get paid to write hatchet jobs!
XXX has it in for me!
My story's got plenty of plot!
It's literary! I don't need a plot!
And on and on and on. We've all heard them, we've probably all said them. I have too, on occasion.
The truth of the matter is, there are no black feathers, no tricks, no gimmicks, no sure things. It's up to us to fly. It's also up to us to make sure that we write things other people want to read. If you've submitted your story to every publisher and agent on the planet and they've all said "No", toss the feather away and admit it's probably not them.
It's the writer's job, their responsibility, to tell a compelling story that people want to read, in fact they'll want to read it so much that they'll pay money for it. It's the writer's job to fly, not the feather's fault when they don't.
-- Stephen King,
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Gotta love The Steve. :)