I'm glad you found my story useful. I'll be looking out for your stories! (No pressure :) )
And don't worry about "not being original" - if anything, creatives are all copying from each other and seldom make anything truly original. When we're starting our creative projects, we often look for inspiration and guidance. We need to try on a few "coats" and imitate those who came before us before we find our own voice. I don't think you should feel too guilty when you draw inspiration from other people's works - as long as you use them to bring forth your own unique piece of work.
The only reprehensible creative act in my opinion would be a person who copies another creative word for word & actively deceives others into believing that the ideas originated from them. But it's also not up to us to bring justice to these imposters - time will be the ultimate judge that exposes them of their lies. There comes a time when creatives are put to the test; those who have cheated will have nothing to show, while those who have sacrificed and put in the work will be received graciously. (Can't say there's empirical evidence for this but I will stand by this intution!)
And being self-conscious is indeed like a curse - interestingly enough I read a quote from Carl Jung today that parallels your insight:
"The biblical fall of man presents the dawn of consciousness as a curse."
I also like that you recognize the duality of self-consciousness. I agree that it can also be a blessing , allowing those of us who are courageous enough to investigate our own psyches to find our paths to individuation.
But like all things in life, moderation is key. I've found that self-consciousness can allow you to unearth insights about your own mind, but it can also become navel-gazing, where you excessively contemplate your thoughts and inhibit yourself from engaging with the external world. Finding the balance is difficult but doing so has, in my experience, allowed me to write personally meaningful pieces.
Thanks again for reading! Can't wait to see what kind of stories you share with us all. Good luck Timothy