I've been reading Elizabeth Gilbert's book "Big Magic" and in it she talks about not "doing what you would do if you knew you could not fail" but "doing what you would do even if you knew you would fail." It strummed a chord for me. If I knew for sure I would never publish a novel I would never spend years writing one. If I knew I would never publish another poem or short story, or knew that my art would never see the light of day outside my little craft room, I would still write poems and short stories and make art. My career days are over and now it's time to spend my remaining years on what drives me creatively.
So I will continue to create art and I will continue to write poems and as for fiction my focus will be on writing flash fiction.
I have two binders of flash stories that need to be sent out. I have ideas for several chapbooks of connected flash fiction stories. And since I have the attention span of a flea I suppose this is the right genre for me.
My short story collection had moderate success and I've published individual stories in journals so I know I have some talent. I can build on past success by writing more and submitting more and settling into a writing practice that makes more sense for me. If I can write a rough draft in an hour, revise in another hour and then send out a story, I will feel more accomplished and successful and not constantly ruminate over unfinished work taking up space in my overcrowded writing/art room.
I know the advice is to read what you want to write, or write what you like to read. And it's true that I prefer to read novels. But writing them is not my style. My writing voice in novels seems flat while my voice in flash fiction seems to sing with more poetic flair. I will just have to intersperse novel reading with some anthologies of flash fiction and study the form a little more.
I just feel I'm onto something and I have to follow my voice toward a more prolific writing life.