Getting It Done: A Creative’s Appraisal

Have I finished it? Is it complete? What more does it need? These are questions I’m constantly asking myself when I feel like I’m on the brink of creating something of worth. Did I hit all the points I wanted to when I started? Has it turned out the way I wanted/hoped, or is it something else now?

As a so-called creative, I wrestle with this quite a lot. Reading and rereading, trying to settle on a sense of certainty, to reach confidence in the merit(s) of what I’ve just done. I’ve mentioned in other pieces of mine on here — I shan’t assume you’ve read any of them — that I spend an inordinate amount of time on my own, and almost always have done. This is relevant here in that it means that even were it to be desired, I don’t usually have a ‘sounding board’ with whom I can bounce ideas off, get feedback from etc. Meaning I’ve had no choice but to trust in my own analytical prowess to see me through, and as such have dialed that part of my brain ‘up to 11’ overtime; on a good/bad day I’m probably better at all that stuff that one human perhaps ever needs to be. I’m not obsessive about it (I don’t think), but the level of scrutiny I apply to both my work and that of any poor soul that solicits my opinion I don’t imagine exists in many other places on Earth! That said, seeking outside opinion can often leave me with more questions raised than answers provided. Trusting someone’s judgment is, for me, its own voyage of discovery. To hold others to my own standards would effectively be self-sabotage because nobody I’ve ever met or been told about looks at things the way I do.

Is it very much ‘mine’, or could anyone have done it? It’s not an inherently bad thing if it reminds you/me of something else, but somehow it’s always better if it doesn’t! I pride myself on my individuality both with pen in hand and without, that in itself should come as no surprise to anyone, but for anyone to even well-meaningly say “oh this kinda reminds me of…” or similar is a guaranteed heart-sinker of a phrase; I know that the person isn’t saying that I’ve plagiarized, nor that it’s at all derivative, but I always hope that my creations will stand alone, for better or worse. A lofty ambition, I know…

Also, the faster it happens, the less sure I initially am about it. This is more common when writing lyrics than anything else, I find. There are a few ‘rules’ I try to adhere to when penning a verse, the main one being that it should be its own self-contained ‘story’ in that it has a beginning, middle and end: introduce whatever the subject is, flesh out my thoughts on the topic for a while, summarise and wrap up. The closing thoughts, to my mind, being the most important part, as therein lies the ‘take-home message’, the part I’d hope to stay in the mind of the listener that little bit longer once my verse (and perhaps the tune) is over. On an aside, at some point in the future, I think I might break down a verse of mine, or explain the thinking that went into it — stick around for that, maybe? [cheesy grin]

I should perhaps point out that one thing this definitely isn’t ever about is ‘perfection’. That’s never been something I’ve ever pursued, as for all intents and purposes I don’t believe it exists. I believe there’s beauty in imperfection, furthermore. No, it’s only ever about the product, whatever it is, being the best that I can make it, or as accurate a depiction of the time and space in which it was created as possible. That I didn’t leave anything out, or highlighted something to the detriment of something else. That I made and conveyed my point, and was understood.

This very topic brings to mind that quote: “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” Particularly in this digital realm, we immerse ourselves in, the ability to edit, modify, amend, etc is both blessing and a curse for a busy mind like mine. I oft fall victim to what I semi-fondly call ’tweak-itis’, such is my propensity to continually tweak, or merely consider tweaking. It’s therefore fortuitous that I’d even be writing about this here and now because all of the stuff I’ve tried to explain here is exactly what I can’t very well go ahead and DO here, as I think I’d be crushed by the weight of the irony. Thanks for reading, and hope to have you back soon.

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