Thursday, November 4, 2010

When Is It Done?

Tonight at Quimby's we had an event with Charles Burns, talking about his new book Xe'd Out. When the Q and A was ending I wanted to ask, "How do you tell it's done?" in regards to books/comics but I was afraid that it would have come off that I was being passive aggressive about wanting to end the event, since we close at 9pm. It's just that I think a lot about how in the process of working on creative things, like my own writing or my own zines, or even just stuff in general (or at least on lots of things anyway) that it's hard for me to designate "OK I'm done with this." I feel like the only thing that makes me "finish" something is a deadline. And it's not because I'm lazy. It's because it's hard for me to get to a point that I'm happy with whatever I'm working on. Every time I look at something I'm working on I always find stuff I need to fix/correct/change. And then I also feel like the moment I press "Send" or "Publish" leads to the very next moment of me noticing the huge glaring typo. Do other people have this problem too? I heard some interview with Chuck Klosterman somewhere where he said that once a piece of his is printed that's when he hates it -- I don't remember how he phrased it exactly. I'm assuming he meant like if he goes back and looks at something he wrote that was printed he finds problems with it, especially if some time has passed. I feel like the more time that passes after I write something the more problems I find with it, not just typos but ideas. Or phrasing. Or any number of things. One of my friends said that she looks back at old stuff she wrote and she thinks, "Wow! That's pretty good, I don't remember writing that!" which is more of a Flowers For Algernon thing. I remember hearing an interview with Tina Fey, and she said that she worked really hard to learn the Sarah Palin voice but when she looks back at it now she can't really remember what she did exactly (while she was actually acting it), and she also used the Flowers For Algernon comparison in regards to that as well.

Anyway, my point is that I never feel 100% happy with any thing I do. And I wonder if some artists or writers also have problems with being happy with their final product? Is the work "finished" because their editor says so and/or because there's the due date? Is there such a thing as too much tinkering? And I wonder what millions of errors I will find immediately the moment I press send on this?

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