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Finish Him!!

Posted by Kyro Sk On 2011-03-06 6 comments

I've recently been forced to face the truth that it's not the starting of something that is so hard.  Nor is the process of brainstorming good ideas significantly difficult.

The challenge is in the finishing of things.

One of the by products of our fast-food, disposable culture is the unrelenting flood of human waste caused by the unceasingly incomplete.  Time and time again, a great idea or kernel of a fantastic project, is set aside because the creator does not have the discipline (or enough disciples natch) to see it across the finish line.  Some projects suffer death by committee where the creator cannot overcome the resistance thrown up by others.

I'm not pointing any fingers here, I'm probably one of the worst offenders.

After receiving a low disk space warning on my high performance audio project drive, I was forced to take a look at what the fuck was on there.  What I uncovered was pretty fucking terrifying.  Aside from almost 4GB I recovered by removing all of Ruxpin's* older stuff, I was able to dump almost 18GB of project data that I could see now was NEVER going to be completed.

What was all that shit?  Well, a number of the projects were ideas that I had in a flash and thought I better record it, jot it down, or make an audible note so that I could return to it and finish it up later.  Some of them were bare bones re-mix attempts that I lost interest in and decided to abandon, but a very scary number of them (about 30) were songs that were 80% done, or worse, were 98% done (i.e. complete, but with some obvious lazy mistakes in it I had not bothered to fix) and then  poorly mixed down to a master that I then used once or twice in a rush either DJ'ing or burning to CD to give away.  In retrospect, embarrassing.

The decade of 2000 - 2010 is littered with the remnants of my incomplete projects (audio, and otherwise).

Now, many an artist will tell you that no work is truly finished, only abandoned.  I'm starting to think that's a pile of whining narcissistic self-indulgent horse shit.  It's the kind of marshmallow garbage you would expect from people who complain about deadlines, lament the fact that their work doesn't sell**, and flit from obligation to obligation looking for the 'right fit' for their creative talents.  I think it's fair to say that I'm guilty of subscribing to this view when it was convenient (recheck that second asterisk point below to verify this admission).

What I submit to you is this: a public declaration of commitment to complete forces a person to change their view of their work.  I'm back in my studio again, quite a lot actually, because of changes that started before Christmas.  Two things conspired to get me back in here: a deterioration of my general baseline health status (I believe the laypeople call it 'mortality', I was as shocked as you are that I'm so afflicted), and an opportunity to work with a junior film creator in Prague.

I told that person that I would have a couple of pieces of sound work completed for his short film by a certain date, and by god I had to make good on the commitment because HE in turn had a deadline.  I had to wrap my head around the fact that one way or another, this 'product' had to 'ship' (at this point I'll refer you to Seth Godin).  It was energizing.  It was strangely, counter intuitively, liberating.  I didn't obsess about reaching "when it's perfect", nothing ever is, and this is probably where that artist mantra above comes from.  Instead, I concentrated on "when it's done".

So, for the rest of this year, I'm going to try to think about new projects differently.   Instead of enumerating all of the possibilities each project can entail, I'll frame it in terms of the deliverables I can complete in order to call the project done.

On that note, I would like to re-start the conversation regarding Project Unknown, as proposed by LordJim earlier this year.  I believe the best place to start is to get the interested parties together in a room early on a weekday evening, add a few pints and some munchies, and talk about ideas (we will still need one after all).  Very soon after we have put ideas on the table, I think we will need to make a commitment to some kind of deliverable - a point when we can call the project done.  I am uncertain what the shape of the commitment will be, just as I have no clarity yet about the project we will pursue.  Commitment is scary, I'm scared just thinking about being committed to the completion of this because it means work, but I think it's okay to be scared and I want to participate anyway.

I know we have a bunch of creative, hard working, loving, dedicated people around us.  I know we can get something going, and if we get started I'm going to stay committed to figuring out how we can get that something finished.

Of course, I'm also a sometimes douche-nozzle.

* we had just been lazy about moving his old projects off of my machine, he has been working in Logic on his laptop for almost 2 years now, this transition from one place to another is yet another incomplete project in itself, we wrapped this one up now though
** my work isn't selling right now either, and I do complain about it, so I can fairly be called a hypocrite