No one writes odes to mediocrity. We (at least us aspiring artistic lot) denigrate those who call it quits when something merely achieves good enough status. We celebrate the chiseling and honing and refining, as well we should--up to a point. I know plenty of writers who go well beyond that point. We share our agony-of-creation porn. We want you to know how painful that 47th revision was. We enthuse about how we suffer for our art. I've been known to produce my own pornography in this rather specific niche; I'm not judging. Sometimes we have to latch on to the pain because we haven't yet had the pleasure we crave. Maybe we even need to wallow in our artistic suffering for a bit. But . . .
You know what separates an "aspiring artist" from an "artist" without a modifier? The gerund-free artist called something good enough. Her work was good enough to share, good enough to (try to) sell, good enough to stake her reputation on. Aspire all you want, but until it's good enough to show, aspirations are all you have.
I received a lovely rejection email this morning. I saw the sender when I turned on my phone, and I tapped on the message as fast my bleary self could tap. I knew that this would be awful quick for an acceptance, but I needed to know for sure. The email simply thanked me for my submission, but advised me that "we've decided not to accept it for publication." It was all very professional, just a perfunctory form.
I'm thrilled to get that rejection, because now I can send the story out somewhere else. I have a couple in mind, even. Maybe those journals will reject my story, too, but then I'll just send it on to the next. Eventually, the story will run.
It's good enough.