"A professional writer is an amateur who didn't give up."
This is a pretty popular meme going around the internet that makes aspiring authors all over feel all tingly for the fraction of a second it takes to read it. It's a borderline cliche phrase, but it also happens to be fairly true.
I have known too many authors who gave up too early. So many feel there's a story inside them... some feel like there's a few hundred stories inside them. Most will never take the leap to try to write that first story, and even fewer will actually finish it. Of those of us who complete our story, most will be too terrified of rejection to show anyone. When we do, we often get knocked down time and time again for our efforts. This is the same for any creative endeavor.
You can ask any published author no matter gender, race, or background, they will have the same rejection stories. Stephen King once said he kept a nail on his wall and pinned every rejection letter he ever got on it. When it was full, he replaced the nail with a spike.
If you build up a thick skin against the outside world, the inner one will get you. Creatives suffer from Impostor's Syndrome. You both think you are indeed worthy while being afraid someone is going to out you as the giant hack that you are. Even Neil Gaiman reports feeling this way in his blog.
Putting your heart on paper is terrifying, and holding it out for the world to see is even scarier.
Many times I've written about the need for a good support system. Friends, family, and especially other creatives. If everyone lifts each other up, we can all equally benefit from the collected stories of our lifetime. Unfortunately, we don't live in a utopia. You have to carve a slice of the world for yourself, and good people aren't always going to be nearby.
I'm here to tell you that you must be your own cheerleader first. No one will rally to support you if you don't support yourself. It's a tall order when you're doing something that leaves your underbelly exposed, but it's essential. You must believe in yourself in order to write the book, to finish the book, to show the book, and defend the book.
I read the quote above in a slightly different way. You are a professional now. Right now. You are sitting down to write your story. That puts you way ahead of the vast majority of the population who would never dream to do so. Celebrate that. Only when you give up are you an amateur. Quitting is the only defeat. It's the only rejection that means a damn.
Believe in yourself because you are worthy of it. And if you can't find it in you to shout from the rooftops right now...
...fake it till you make it, baby.