Hello and welcome to the 94th episode of The Spark & The Art creativity podcast. Thank you for subscribing to our weekly podcast, where we alternate between interviews with creative folks from all different career levels and insight and inspiration episodes. All with the intention you’ll get what you need to get your creative projects started and, more importantly, finished.
I’m your host Tucker and this week is insight and inspiration and we’re gong to talk about finding fault.
Sometimes we finish something and it’s the greatest thing in the world. We’re a genius and can’t believe people aren’t writing epic tales about our talents. Only to come back to it and wonder why we even bothered finishing in the first place. Sometimes we finish something and trash it right away because it just isn’t right. Sometimes we can tell something’s not right and simply move on. The point is that you can always find something wrong with a piece of work you’ve done.
Ayn Rand is a novelist who’s most well know for two of her novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. They are about creativity and society and genius and other topics that people more educated than myself will talk about. I’m currently reading The Fountainhead. Actually I’m listening to it on audiobook and the running time is 32 hours. It’s a really long book. I think if it were to come out today it would have been released as a trilogy rather than a single book.
The version of The Fountainhead I’m listening too contains an introduction by the author for the book's 25 anniversary in print. In it she asks the question "Are there any substantial changes I would want to make in The Fountainhead?” and goes on to explain that no there weren’t and so she left the text untouched. But what follows is an explanation of an error and a clarification of a sentence.
The one that struck me was the explanation of the error:
She writes “The error is semantic: the use of the word "egotist" in Roark's courtroom speech, while actually the word should have been "egoist." The error was caused by my reliance on a dictionary which gave such misleading definitions of these two words that "egotist" seemed closer to the meaning I intended.”
So, Ayn Rand an author who is studied in around the world. The Fountainhead - Which has been translated into multiple languages and has sold more than 6.5 million copies since it was first published. It’s 753 pages long and the audiobook is, as mentioned, 32 hours long. And yet the author felt it necessary that out of the 311,596 words in the book that she should clarify 'egoist' vs ‘egotist’.
You can always find something wrong.
The other interesting thing was she didn’t change it. She left it. She may have irked Ayn enough to warrant an explanation in the intro but she didn’t change it in the text of the printing.
This reminds me of an old post I wrote in 2012 entitled The Persian Flaw:
It reads “There is a tradition among craftsmen to purposefully put mistakes into their work. A stutter in a pattern. A double stitch among single stitches. An upside down tile among hundreds. This tradition is called the Persian Flaw. The story goes that Persian weavers, being very devout, believed that only God could create something perfect. They would then show respect by purposely introducing these little errors.
You could look at this like they were apologizing for their talents and limiting themselves. I prefer to look at it like they were admitting that it’s better to be done than to be perfect. The fact that they were finished was more important than having the item be perfect.
I’m sure people still marvelled at the craftsmanship. People still purchased, shared and cherished the items.
Don’t let your pursuit for perfection create a barrier to completing something. It’s better to be done than perfect. And in my experience people are often more impressed with the fact that you did something than they are with the thing you did."
So, you can always find something wrong. The challenge is to let it go. The challenge is to acknowledge it and move on. The challenge is to say it’s finished even though you can see it’s faults.
I am not at all saying to put out shitty work. That would be shitty of me. What I’m saying is put out the best work you can. If you can share your work knowing its faults and better those faults next time you will always improve. If you keep making the same errors and seeing the same flaws you aren’t progressing. You need to find the next flaw. The new flaw. Because you can always find something wrong.
Here’s where you get to do some thinking:
- Is there a project you keep going back to try and fix?
- Is this stopping you from starting a different project?
- How long have you felt stuck? Days? months? Years?
- What would happen if you just said it was done and moved to a new thing?
- Would you feel like you were abandoning it? Would you feel relieved? Would you feel invigorated by this new project?
- Are you imagining what other people would say if you moved on?
- Would you rather be done or would you rather be perfect? You can’t have both.
If during this episode you thought of someone who’s been working on the same song, short story, painting or whatever but isn’t seeing any progress I’d hope that sharing this episode would help them. The easiest way to share it with them is to send the short link TheSparkAndTheArt.com/94 The hardest way to share it with them is to transcribe it and put it in a bottle in the ocean and hope that it finds them.
If anything I said made you feel something other than boredom. Okay even if you felt bored. I’d love to hear about it on twitter @sparkartpodcast.
Thanks for listening and remember: you won’t get the art without the work and you won’t do the work without the spark.
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