Art is to ship, to ship is to suck.

Art is the art of seeing what doesn’t exist.Tue Nov 02 01:54:57  via Tweetie for Mac

I’ve been thinking about art lately because I’ve been doing art, very deliberately. I’m talking the Seth Godin kind of art: works performed with humanity. For me, that’s often a piece of software or a video or a blog post.

Here’s something I’ve noticed. Every time I create a piece of art, I encounter three phases:

  1. The giddy: I’m deliriously excited, before I start just as I’m beginning. This is going to be great. Everyone will love it! This is going to be. so. cool.

  2. The suck: Then it hits. Sometimes it’s right at the beginning, sometimes it’s not for a while in. Suddenly I realize that I’m creating something imperfect. Maybe I make an irrevocable mistake, or maybe I just internalize the fact that if I try to fix it, I will never be done. It will never be quite the way I imagined it. And I’ve still got a lot of work left on this piece of crap.

    This, ordinarily, is where I lose it. This is where I give up, when I give up, which to date is more than I’d like. This is where I get grumpy and tired and disillusioned and just want to go home. But on the off-chance I don’t…

  3. The success: I ship, and it’s…it’s incredible. It’s the most wonderful feeling in the world. And yes, it’s not perfect, and yes, there are problems, but I made a deliberate change in the world. I’ve shipped this blog, I’ve shipped music on YouTube, I’ve shipped a career as a workflow coach. Every time it feels like pure bliss, and only ever once I’ve called it done.

Art begins with seeing what isn’t there. It concludes with delivering a rough facsimile of what was seen. Delivering the vision itself is categorically impossible.

2 Responses to “Art is to ship, to ship is to suck.”

  1. I go through this process when writing a blog post, esp. one that’s important to me (i.e., all of them). There’s a point in #2 where I put on my Good Enough hat and just work to finish the thing. It’s never perfect, but it gets me to #3!

  2. Peter says:

    Yeah, that “good enough” switch is a tough one, but it’s the only way out. For me, I have to remove my attachment to the work, in a Buddhist sense. It’s my ego, and identifying my ego with my work, that gets in the way.