One of the interesting features of Steve Jobs that I find interesting – and reinforced by my recent reading of Seth Godin – is the phrase “Artists ship”. For Jobs this meant that it meant that it was not enough to be merely creative or to seek to express one’s self creatively. The ultimate outcome of the art should be to ship: to complete the project or item and move it on into the world at large. The artist that did not ship was, to Jobs, the same as the artist that did not complete anything at all.
This statement has challenged me as I have been languishing on the completion of the text that I completed last November. I wish I could tell you why. There seems to be a certain reluctance on my part to push the work to completion.
I wish I could understand what the issue was. Part of me says that it is the self critic inside of me which keeps me from moving forward. Part of me says it was the feedback that I received from the Createspace competition: that my writing was such that it was hard to engage the characters. And then I am consumed with the sense what I do is simply not worthy of moving to the publishing state.
Which is silly.
True, my writing is not the height of Ernest Hemingway. Arguably it has got better. And non-engaging characters? I have to rein myself in for a minute: it was not a novel I was writing (which was part of the competition) but rather a fable – so of course character development is different. What is stopping me? The reluctance that if I ship I will not make the million dollar bestseller? The fact is that I have not done so to date, but that has not prevented me from publishing before.
To have written, edited and not published is the same as not having written. The question I should be asking myself is “Did I do my best?” If I did, I can expect no better of myself – even as I this is the only thing I ask of all others.
To ship is to finish. To ship is to put something to bed – and to be able (intellectually and emotionally) to move on to the next thing. Could it be that the reluctance I find in myself to move to the next project is not as much a lack of creativity and ideas as it is my mind telling to finish before I move on?
Artists ship. If I claim this title as a writer and author, I must do the same.