On Jeff's New Motorcycle, Daniel Bell recently wrote an entry about the struggles of wannabee novelists. I'll raise my hand and say that I can relate perfectly with the premise of his article titled "Talent or Training". I've been there. (Heck, I'm still there.) I recently discussed this very topic with my sister-in-law, who has served as a first-reader for several personal efforts at novel writing.
Call it insecurity or laziness, if you want to, but it's hard to invest blood, sweat, time, energy, and effort into something that you may have no talent for in the final analysis. Many people enjoy reading the novel writing efforts of others and many, many more enjoy the movies made out of those novels, but when it comes to writing one....
By putting words on paper and announcing to the world that your novel length work is available and "wouldn't you like to read it", we open ourselves up to a myriad of unpleasant outcomes.
The first option, your family and friends don't support you at all in this endeavor. The second option, not wanting to hurt your feelings, your family and friends don't tell you that your work misses the mark entirely. Thirdly, you continue working on your novel and after a couple of years of weekends, holidays, and late nights, you send it out to publishers who have no interest in your work. And in the end, you spend ten or fifteen years on several different works repeating that same process and decide to self-publish one of your works. You spend several hundred (or thousand) dollars, you sell five or six copies to family and friends, and without the benefit of a large publishing house that has vast experience launching new authors, no one else is interested.
And this might be an optimistic view.