One of my greatest fears, having gone through several permutations, is letting my work slip.
My first story for the newspaper, was a cover story. The editor, whom I am still in contact with to this day, spent four hours sitting beside me and editing the whole thing.
As I apologised profusely for - among other things - making her life miserable and destroying her world and existence (I was a very self-centered 23 year old), she went on and restructered the paragraphs.
"I don't need someone who self-flagellates himself," she said. Which made me self-flagellate even more.
When she was done, I took a look at the story, and it was all still mine. My intro, my flow, my little jokes. My sentences, my words. It was all there. The flavour was retained. And yet it is smoother. That, my friends, is the mark of a great editor.
When the piece came out, she told me, who was beaming with pride, "You started out as a cover story writer. Your first story was a cover story. Never go down from there."
I hold on to this. Not chasing covers or becoming a glory-hound, but my work must be up to a certain standard. Regardless of what other people say. When other people say something about your work, it is almost always laced with personal politics, emotions, sentiment, all for good or for bad. Only you know how good or how bad you did. Only you can be honest with yourself. Because everyone else lies. Only you can be honest, at least to yourself.
Pushing myself and my craft is perhaps the only drug I allow in my life. I cannot let it drop. The scale might be different, the stakes either higher or lower, but it doesn't change the game one bit for me.
I will let go and sacrifice everything else - I take extreme risks - in the pursuit of satisfaction.
Otherwise, there is no point.