So we decided to flip through some of the manga, and we kept seeing lines of dialogue that had us go, "What!? I don't recognize that! And I doubt I would come up with that wording! They changed it! We're terrible translators! Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo!" (Note: Exaggerated dramatization.)
But we don't trust anyone's memories perfectly, not even our own, so we like to check stuff. We pulled up our translation scripts, and lo and behold, it was exactly the same! They didn't change it after all! And then we're like, "...But is it really that good?" (Cynics through and through.)
Anyway, I think this is further evidence against the theory that you can judge a translator's skill based on their non-translation writing. For example, when I'm writing here at LiveJournal, I generally find the vocabulary I have at hand (in my head) to be sufficient to convey my thoughts. But when translating, we're constantly using dictionaries to look up new vocabulary, and so words that wouldn't have occurred to us before are more likely to be brought to mind. Add to that the fact that we're much more likely to use a thesaurus for something that's supposed to be professional, and you get all kinds of words that we wouldn't normally use. (Although sometimes I think we should start using them more often.)
I also think that, because Japanese wording is, by default, different than English wording, we automatically have to use more creativity in rearranging the words than we would need if we were just writing off the top of our heads.
Finally, I think that we're blessed with inspiration a lot of the time. At least, a lot of the time something ends up sounding good.
Today I'm thankful for translation inspiration, getting a bunch of comp copies of manga today, getting a ride home from the activity last night (it's complicated), having plans to go grocery shopping this weekend, and getting to complete some collections in Legend Cards.