This is where my analogy comes in (you all know how much I love analogies and I just couldn't pass this one up). Some of us will be those countries with 37 metals/books, the best writing facilities in the world, and celebrities in our chosen field. We might even give away some of our coveted secrets to how we struck gold. Some of us will be writers who are good and occasionally great. We'll have a smattering of silvers and bronzes with a couple golds tossed in the mix. Others will have just three metals and it won't matter if they're bronze, gold, silver, or...platinum (sorry, I couldn't resist). We'll just be happy that we've done our best. Finally, some of us will stay where we are now. We'll be in the field competing for the fun and rush we get of discovering our latest achievement. We may never get a metal or even close, but we do it, because we love it.
People write for all different reasons. Some do it because they want to be the greatest on Earth, to be the one with more gold metals than ever. Others do it because they enjoy it. Turning it into something serious takes away all the fun for them. They'd rather just do what they want and figure out their own way, whether that leads to publication or not.
I think we often forget that not everyone is on the same track as us. Just because we are all in the same sport doesn't mean we've all gotten to this place the same way, or that we're all trying to get to the same place on the podium. We all create our own podiums and they change as we change. It doesn't matter that some of us will never write 37 books and be uber-famous because that's not our goal. In the end, it's what we as, not as "writers," but as "individuals who write" wish for ourselves. We have to be satisfied with what we have done and not look back with regrets.
What are your goals? How did you get to where you are? What "self-awarded" metal do you hope to achieve?