What if you wrote a story and nobody read it? Would it be a failure? Would it be as if it never existed? Would there be a difference between offering it to the world only to have it ignored and keeping it in a desk drawer? Does art exist without an audience? Are the (rumored) manuscripts that J.D. Salinger has tucked away in some vault any less real? (An aside: I'd probably wait to publish after I died too if I had to face the unrealistic expectations those stories are going to be burdened with.) What about those bottom-drawer novels writers accumulate, are they different since they are essentially writing excercises?
I know that one defense mechanism for writers is an exaggerated sense of arrogance about their talents. As much as we may have hated the jocks in our lives with their inflated egos, most of us have achieved some level of false pride, if a lot more delicate than those in the sports world. But I think most writers, as well as most other artists, are more inclined to show their fears of rejection and to talk about it. Does that make us any less talented, or does it only strengthen our self worth?
I guess we must always continue our resolve, no matter where we are in our careers. Even writing this post has given me some encouragement. That doesn't mean I'm going out to be an arrogant prick... just enough of one to get by.