Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Doing it Right

My friend Martin Lewis is a charter member of the notorious Left Handed League.  That is a group of magicians who are slightly off of plumb, have radically weird ideas about magic and how it is performed. They came together to form a conclave and happen to all be left handed. I am a founding member of the organization although I am not left handed. I do, however, have all the other qualifications for being slightly off plumb. I was allowed into the Left Handed League on a technicality. Because I am dyslexic and I don't really comprehend the difference between left and right... I could be left handed and not know it. I have always been proud of being a part of that league, even though my membership comes with a codicil.
Martin said one time while we were preparing a proposal, "If we don't have time to do it right, when will we ever have the time to do it again?" That phrase has stuck with me for many years and I think about it often when I am rushed to get something done.
Along with Martin's sage advice my son also has a theory called the "more mop" solution.  Although not exactly the same thing the two ideas do over lap.  In a nutshell the "more mop" theory goes like this.  Suppose a drain is stopped up in the bathtub and the water is running.  Eventually the water will run over the sides of the tub and cause a spill.  The "more mop" solution would be to bring in a bunch of mops to clean up the spill.  Unfortunately when those mops are soaked you will have to bring in more mops, followed by more mops.  The solution is not in finding more mops but stopping the water flow or unclogging the drain.  To combine the two chestnuts, if you don't have time to fix the problem right the first time, then the alternative is a lot of mopping up. 
I have always been taught "there is a lot apparently wasted time in creativity". Ideas like flowers need time to bloom and every path to the solution of that idea is one more step in the unfoldment. Like what is happening inside the plant as it is trying to bloom, a lot of the creative time is unseen.  Although it looks like wasted time, it is all part of the process.
Time is the key word here.  Each flower blooms at a different time and at a different rate from all other flowers even those of its own kind. It takes whatever time it needs and can not be programed into a schedule or deadline. So it is with artistic and creative ideas. They must be allowed to run their course and fully develop before we cut the flower and try to fashion a bouquet. In most cases it is better to miss the deadline than to cut off the creative process mid development.  
Being an artist is a matter of knowing that timing.  Knowing when some idea, painting, sculpture or piece of music is finished as a piece. When is the painting done? When one more stroke will make it better and when one more brush stroke will ruin it.  Creativity is not a timed sport, the winner is not the one who is ahead of the game as the clock runs out.  Creativity is about knowing when an idea is complete based upon an inner feeling not a deadline. How does one know when enough time has been dedicated to a project or idea to be finished or when time has just run out? No clue. This unquantified ability is what makes and artist and artist. 
So do it right the first time.  It is the only time you will have for the project or idea. Besides by sticking with some artistic venture and giving it all your attention and time you insure that the original muse is still guiding your instincts.
Adopt a non-temporal approach to your work, let completion and quality dictate the project not the clock.
As you were,

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