While I have a book published (siren! pirates! okay yeah enough with the marketing), I’m still editing the first novel I wrote.
That first novel is still worth all the time and love you put into it, so long as you figure out what went wrong, and learn from the mistakes. You’ll make less mistakes during your second novel. And if you keep learning and keep growing and keep writing, each stories after that (while many bring their own new skills to be conquered) will get easier, even if the process is so slow that you don’t notice it in the moment.
Your worth as a writer is not defined by your first novel. It’s not defined by your second novel. Or your third.
So don’t give up. Don’t stop writing. Don’t stop editing. Don’t stop publishing.
Don’t let this be your last novel.
“IF I AM WORTH ANYTHING LATER,
I AM WORTH SOMETHING NOW.
FOR WHEAT IS WHEAT,
EVEN IF PEOPLE THINK IT IS
A GRASS IN THE BEGINNING.”
— Van Gogh
* Applies to all creative endeavours, not just novels.