Participation in the flash fiction challenge has led to an unanticipated realization: there are a ton of would-be authors in the same position as me.
I mean, I always knew that was the case. But it's different to read a bunch of responses to the flash fiction challenge and see how well these people tell stories. And the responses to that one flash fiction challenge represent only the smallest of fractions of the total number of people who are working hard to get their first novels published. If publishers are searching for a needle in a haystack it's easy to feel like just another piece of hay!
But the majority of authors probably feel this way before they get their break and they get their novel published. And that's an encouraging thought.
BG Update: character outlines are finished, next task is reviewing the scene outlines and addressing structural weaknesses.