When you think about it, writing is an activity where it's hard to work out exactly how well you're doing it. Certainly, it's possible to get feedback from friends and writing groups, but often we're still left guessing. I have to admit, I'm used to being able to find quantifiable measures of sucess and failure. To take some of my other interests, I know exactly which numbers in the British sabre rankings my nearest competitors occupy, exactly what my evening league cricket bowling average is for the season (7.4), and I have various qualifications and things to show that I can do this History stuff. Of course, writing is an aesthetic endeavour, but even musically I at least have various measures of technical skill, even if the most important aspects are harder to quantify.
This isn't by any means a bad thing, and of course writing isn't meant to be reduced like that, but the uncertainty of it is strange. There's always a slight nagging worry over whether something was good enough to submit, particularly when you don't hear anything back from somewhere a while. Obviously, editors are busy people, but long silences are always worrying. That's particularly the case since I'm one of those people who instinctively believes that whatever I've just written is truly awful, regardless of its actual quality. There are occasions when even a straightforward rejection seems better than hearing nothing.