Sometimes I still compare myself to other writers. It's hard to stop. I don't even do it consciously. But I hate the way that creeps up on me, because inevitably my mind will turn to people I actually know and like, and I hate the way that feels. I'm not crazy about mental comparisons with professionals, either, for obvious reasons.
So anyway, cliquish writers in FFX fandom. I wrote a few fics - fragments, scenes, but no real stories - and never tried to post them anywhere because I was afraid of judgment from this group of people. I had a website that nobody visited, so I just put them up there. I never spoke to these people. I don't think they had any idea I existed, but I was still afraid of them, and didn't want them to find my stuff.
The end result was that I never wrote any serious FFX fiction, and I never spoke up in fandom - ever. Even if I had... well, I was fairly visible in the Xenogears fandom back in the day, and I know I forgot most of the people who emailed me unless they were frequent contributors to my site, or happened to talk to me a lot on the forums. I was very judgmental about forum conversations, but hardly ever read the fics submitted to my fansite, and never pegged any authors as 'the bad ones,' or made fun of submissions. And to these FFX fans, I probably would have been one of those forgettable people. I wasn't an awful writer - nor was I the best, but I was decent - so I probably wouldn't have drawn hostility or flames. I just didn't feel I could live up to their standards if they happened to notice me.
Of course, having never talked to them, I never did find out what those standards were. I read their blogs, but blog posts are by nature very generalized unless you name names and get very specific, which people (myself included) avoid because it's the bitchy thing to do. You can look at their fiction and extrapolate from there (I did), but what people write isn't always an indication of where they set the bar of their tolerance for other work.
So I dodged the bullet of their judgment, I guess, and in return lost a potentially valuable experience. That is, if they would've judged me at all. I was banking on an assumption I had no evidence to support.
Now? I don't even remember their names.
Sometimes I just can't get over the fact that I was so afraid of nothing - that I don't even remember who they were now, but I still have that knee-jerk reaction to back away from FFX fandom. Or Vagrant Story fandom. Take your pick, it happened with both.
If I did remember them - now - I'd probably tell myself one thing: if they don't like what I write, fuck them. They can go to hell. That's what I say to myself every time I enter a new group and start writing. I don't always feel it, but I always say it, because letting myself be scared away by a possibility, something that is essentially conjured from the ether of my imagination, means I'm defeating myself. Insults and bad reviews - and yes, even concrit - can hurt, but at least they mean I produced something. I'm supposed to be a creator, so not creating is always the worst outcome.
Besides, dead silence is bad in other ways.