For years I was stilted by this idea that everything I produce must be utterly perfect. I was loathe to release anything I wasn’t 100% satisfied with which inevitably lead to releasing the bare minimum. On top of which, the pressure of releasing something that I’ve deemed to be close-enough-to-ignore-the-imperfections-of creates this whirlpool of anxiety which rises and recedes faster than any tide I’ve ever known. What if it still fails? The stress of putting so much faith into something which does not become an instant hit creates in its aftermath an indigo depression. If it failed, the failure must be you. Right?
Recently, I have begun having conversations with writers and musicians about the vulnerability of music, art and even comedy (I read about that one in Share Your Work by Austin Kleon). Considering they are all forms of self-expression it’s only natural that they are deeply personal and carry the weight of unattainable perfection.
For me, trying to achieve this perfection is like trying to move a heavily laden cart down an impossibly rutted road. I was looking at my songs desperately seeking problems like going through a “Where’s Wally?” book looking for Wally and I found them. Except, I found all of them, including ones that don’t exist. The song then reaches this point where it doesn’t feel like a song anymore and every note I hit is somehow wrong.
I’ve had to learn to take a break and let it go. I usually give myself a week just to forget what it sounds like. Then listen to it again. In my head I know how much of the song I despised but when I listen to it again I can’t hear any of it. There may be a few tid-bits that leap out so I work on them. As for the rest, they’re old news and I fall back in love with the song.
I recently uploaded a song, Look At Your Garden, and as I was recording it I kept judging it insisting it needed more. I was begging it to be more perfect until I reached a point where I just went “fuck it”. This is what I can achieve right now. If I dive in to this anymore I will start to ruin the song. I’m just going to have to trust that in the future as I record more from home that I’ll learn more. Until then I’m not going to force the knowledge on myself. I should know by now that knowledge comes with time and not having the knowledge right now doesn’t diminish my current work.