ever want to get shit ALL done? like there’s some project you’ve had hanging over your head for centuries, and somehow it’s never finished? i remember (and have perhaps distorted) an old wives’ tale about fisherman’s wives who would sew sweaters for their husbands at sea–but right before they got to the end, they’d unravel the thing and start over again–because if they finished the sweater and he was at sea, it meant he was dead. like my circus. that was a fun project. so many people collaborated. getting to work and play with the infamous benjamin turner (who is now on tour with the carpet bag brigade) was a dream come true (nightmare? just kidding, ben). but, fuck, it took a year to plan and a year to execute. and another six months to make the tour movie. and it’s all outta sync and i have to re-do it. it’s still not done!
perfectionism. a major obstacle to completion.
how do we know when to stop working on a piece of art (a film, a short story, an ice carving)? it’s like dating. you gotta check yourself. i’ve adapted the dating protocol to art. when i don’t know what to do in a relationship, i call friends who know me, tell the truth, and ask for their perspective. and i put that information on the table. i talk to the person and tell them where i’m at. i meditate on it. i sleep on it. i read about it. i write about it. i make art about it.
which brings us back to the art.
e. g. i’ve been ramping up my standup writing. and i had the bright idea to create a filemaker database to put all my ideas into so i wouldn’t lose them as easily. it’s also helpful to be able to sort them by topic for when i want to build longer sets. and i could even go back through my old notebooks and harvest the old seeds i sowed long ago! but then my mind said, hold the fuck on–you’re going to buy filemaker pro, load it on to the computer, build a database, go through all your old notebooks, and then write new jokes? that’s a couple of weeks’ work and you might lose the steam you had to write jokes in the first place inside a steam-sucking computer chamber! NO WAY. and then another voice said, MAKE A PHONE CALL to someone who has PERSPECTIVE. so i called my ‘comedy mentor’ (who knows how i work and how i shirk), told him the story, and he said DO IT! so i’m doing it. in the past, i would have spent a week just puzzling over whether to make the stupid database and not written a single joke. ah, progress.
and as for stick-a-fork-in-it-done? not gonna happen. maybe for dead people. my good friend brian’s motto is helpful for perfectionists (but not for imperfectionists): “better done than good.” am i wondering to myself, ‘is this blog entry good enough?’ yes. am i willing to stay up until 4:30 am again to perfect it? no. good night!