Riding the line between perfectionism and shipped art

Next week, April 21st to be exact is the deadline for a songwriting competition that I’ll be entering. Once I had chosen the song I was going to enter, I had a problem. The recording I had already made was good, but it wasn’t great. The sounds weren’t clean, the percussion wasn’t tight, and while it conveyed the song, it just wasn’t quite there in a number of ways.

My wife mentioned to me, If this is the song, it’s worth making as awesome as possible. Probably not her exact words, she’ll forgive me if I paraphrase.

As an artist, I live in-between the worlds of being so entirely anal-retentive that I never finish everything, desiring every little detail to be right. But as Seth Godin says, “Real Artists Ship”

Part of being an artist is creating connection, putting yourself out there in a way that might not work. That vulnerability of not being perfect can make art even more beautiful.

But given how great this opportunity is, my wife in telling me to make it great was giving me permission to let my inner perfectionist out of the box a bit. After all, “almost good enough” isn’t really that great. As Mark Twain said, “The difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” Or iceberg and ice cube, horse and horsefly, a house and House, M. D.

Or as anybody’s granddaddy would tell them, if it is worth doing, it is worth doing well.

Here’s the link to the finished song: http://youtu.be/1rECy4exWIM
It’s called, “Alabama Heat”

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