"Writing is like shoplifting. You're constantly trying to get away with bigger and bigger things and not get caught." I spent about 14 hours total in the car this weekend with ace writer/editor Rob Levin (http://theroblevin.wordpress.com/) talking about, well, that. Rob and I have been working together for around five years now. He was the guy who brought me into Top Cow, editing both Cyblade and Alibi, and then came on board TUMOR when it became clear we needed a grown up involved to get the book done.
The conversation we had was about pushing yourself, and how easy it is not to. How every project needs to push off from where you left off, and you need constantly be challenging yourself. But, it also comes from a sense of self-loathing. At almost every minute when I'm writing (or immediately after when I've submitted my script to the editor or the artist or my friends for notes and thoughts) is asking whether I get away with what I'm doing. If the constructed reality of the story stands up to scrutiny because, y'see, I see the stitches. I see the places where I took shortcuts, got lazy, forced it out, left it to fix 'later' etc. I did something that I find morally wrong from a creative stand point. And the feedback? That tells you if you make it past mall security or get tackled and beat up in the back hallways.
But, with that, comes something else. So, if you constantly feel like you made it by some miraculous twist of fate, how in god's name do you sell yourself or your work? Well, that's the other thing that's important. Compartmentalizing. When I'm sitting here alone, writing, and listening to the Pixies, I hate myself and every word I ever wrote. When I tweet or do interviews or go to shows all of that HAS TO go away. I go from hating myself to being Mr. I Can Get It Done. You have to instill confidence in your editors and fans equally. You need to show off that you know what you're doing and that you're going to do an amazing job.
Now, if you actually BELIEVE that, there might be a problem. There's very little more terrifying than being told, "Great, get scripting." Because you just started all over again, back at the beginning and facing off with trying to get that hardcover past that tall nerdy guy with bad skin and a B. Dalton Booksellers tie standing by the door.
Maybe that's just me, though.