I had such a fabulous experience yesterday speaking to a group of 7th and 8th graders who attend Cosgriff, a Catholic school here in Salt Lake City. Anyway, they'd all read LOSER'S GUIDE and were full of great questions about the book. (Side note here--author visits are just so much more effective when students have been prepped beforehand. This isn't just ego-driven-by-a-desire-to-sell-books talking here, but teachers shouldn't invite authors to speak to a class cold. It's so much more beneficial for the students if they've actually read something by said writer beforehand.)
Anyway. One of the kids asked which authors I admire most. Normally I would have rattled off names like M. E. Kerr and Madeleine L'Engle, who were important influences on me. But instead I said "Anybody who can finish writing a book, whether they publish it or not."
Writing a novel is hard. And if you've done it, you should congratulate yourself. My hat's off to you.