I'm at home right now, waiting for the doorbell to ring. The master of my EP is out for delivery, and soon it will be in my hands. I have mixed feelings about this.

Let me fill you in, as I've been pretty sparse on details recently. Boldface proclamations notwithstanding, I decided to go back to my original plan: mix the record myself, and spend money on a good mastering guy to give it some polish.

Collaboration is tough. When you work with someone else, you want to trust them. Ideally, you want someone who you don't have to tell what to do, because their own ideas are better than yours.

But how do you build up that trust? For someone as creatively solitary as I, it can be hard. Mastering makes it especially difficult, because, as far as I can tell, there is no way to judge a mastering engineer's work.

Because of the way records are made - recording in one place, mixing in another, mastering by someone else - you can never really tell how much of the final sound he or she is responsible for.

So I'm left doing something I loathe. Acceptance by reputation. This particular engineer worked on a very high-profile major label record recently, and I've been told that this, in and of itself, means he is good, and he'll do a good job. This makes me cringe, but what else can I do?

So that's why I'm sitting in bed, biting my nails, and waiting for the Fedex truck. Eep.