My brother gave me a piece of advice when I was 12 and playing competitive ping pong. (Yes, "competitive" and "ping pong" can very much go together, so stop that laughing, right now!) He told me all successful competitors possess something called "fighting spirit." I didn't really ask him what he meant but vaguely understood it as being equivalent to "never give up."
His advice took me through some hairy moments. I didn't always win but have amazed myself many times at how much further I could go with that attitude than without.
I was reminded of this advice this past weekend when I was competing in the same ring as a 2nd degree, a 3rd degree, and a 5th degree black belt. I walked into that ring believing that I had a chance. I didn't win in the form portion of the competition but I gave my best performance ever. When sparring came, my brother's advice continued to urge me on and I won my first match, against a 5th degree.
It can happen, writer friends. Our time frame is long; many of us toil over our craft for years without seeing any tangible rewards but keep that fighting spirit. Something good will come from it. Maybe publication, maybe something else. Like kicking someone much higher rank in the head.