Moral of this story about the creation of my debut novel? A story is ready when it's ready and not before. I know that several self-published pundits preach on the internet and elsewhere that writers should produce as many books as possible and put them out there on the market. If I did that, I feel that I would have lots of mediocre work, little of which I would be proud to call my own. In that case I would probably use a pen name. But I want all of my work to be excellent, and close to perfect. Will it be? Perhaps not, but I can do my part to reach the bar I've set for myself. In the meantime, at least whatever readers come along will not be disappointed with sloppy writing.
Two contrasting examples of this point are two of my favorite writers, John Steinbeck and Stephen King. John Steinbeck's entire published bibliography is less than a quarter of Mr. King's output (and he's not finished yet). I've read everything by Steinbeck, and it was all breathtaking. I've read about a quarter of King's work, and roughly half of that will remain in my brain and heart till my last breath.
Neither of these greats are better than the other. They are what they are. But each arrived to his place in his own way, at his own pace. Both are right.
So, my friends who aspire to write and publish, whenever you hear or read a writer telling you that you "must" this or you "never should" that, put your hands over your ears (or over the screen), turn, and walk away. Find YOUR way and do it right! YOUR WAY!