Way back when I started writing in 2006-2007 (can't remember which) I made a pact with myself: I wouldn't attempt to write a novel until I had written and published ten stories in professional markets. The idea was that by then I'd be a good enough writer not to be wasting my time and energy trying to make a novel work. I did try to write a novel after my fifth published pro story. Hubris! I said, and resolved to wait until I'd completed my goal.
Of course, it works both ways. My total pro stories now number 8 (some of them have been accepted but not actually published yet). I can hear the clock tick, if you know what I mean. The day of Novelizing is 'night, and I hate it.
But, but... (you're saying)... isn't this what you wanted? To write stories to learn the ropes and then write that fantastic novel you've had in your head all along?
Yes, and no. I do love writing stories and seeing them into print, and I have learned a lot since I started, but I'm nowhere near ready for the novel. Plotting is still a stranger to me. I still feel my way around a 5000 word story, spilling it out without logic or reason and then relying on my poor critiquers (sorry Mom, sorry Villa Diodati) to make suggestions. Then I apply their common sense and and think about the plot a bit and collage the stupid thing into some sort of shape. I am occasionally successful with this approach, but the most frequent critique leveled at my stories is still that "they just don't make any sense".
The thought of having to go this route with a novel makes me shudder. I have a monstrous case of cold feet. It's already hard enough to figure out why people do things in a 2000-5000 word story, my current project is aiming at 20000 words and I'm totally and irreversibly lost (or so it seems). How can I even think of spending a whole year (or more) drafting out a 90000 word monster to then have to reassemble it bit by bit?
So, am I happy I've almost achieved my goal? Sure! Will I be terribly sad if my next submissions come back rejected?
Eh--I'll go get some ice-cream now.