I didn't think I was going to add to this topic, but I finally figured out how to say what I wanted to say (relatively) briefly:
1) Sometimes no amount of 'improvement' is going to change your situation.
I understand most of this advice is geared towards beginners, which is why 'work harder!' 'get better!' etc. is touted a lot, but I think it's also very important to recognize when you are past that stage, and these kinds of suggestions are no longer useful to you.
Sometimes you'll do a legitimately great job and no one will really care. That's life. =/
If you've ever enjoyed a movie/video game/TV series that few others have even heard of, you know the deal. These are industry professionals with funding and advertising, coming together to create a beautiful product...and even their work can be swept under the rug by the general public. Do you really think you can make yourself immune to this just by putting in a ton of effort...?
Not everything becomes a smash hit, and that's okay. It doesn't automatically mean you need to 'do better next time' or critique yourself to death so you can 'learn from your failure'. Appreciate the intrinsic value of the work you've done...then let it go and move on.
2) Not everyone 'worked hard to become a success'
I doubt anyone rose to stardom without ANY effort, but automatically assuming that your struggle is 'correct' or deserved because everyone had the same struggle just sounds like a comfortable lie, imo. ^^;
Some people will have it much easier than you, and some people will have it much worse than you. It doesn't make anyone lesser or greater, it's just a fact. There's no need to try to justify it.
3) Self-confidence is not a sin
There's nothing wrong with you as an artist/author if you like your work. There's nothing wrong with thinking something you made is great, even years after the fact when you can see all the flaws in it.
I understand why people say harsh things like "everything you make sucks; accept it" or "if you think your work is perfect, you're wrong", but after a while it just sounds like...rationalized projection from artists who are really very insecure. =/
They can't escape the negative feelings they have about what they do, so they use them as motivation to keep improving...and THEN they decide that the ONLY way to be motivated to keep improving is to internalize those feelings, and spread the message accordingly.
Just...no. I'll pass on that, thanks.
Feel how you need to feel to get your stuff done, but don't assume that anyone who doesn't feel the same is in the wrong. I love my writing and my art, yes, even to the point where I think certain pieces are amazing and can't be improved upon. At the same time, I am driven to keep growing and learning new things. The two ideas don't have to be mutually exclusive.