Recently, while reading Tina Fey’s Bossypants, I came across this wonderful quote.
The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready. The show goes on because it is 11:30.
I think it would be hard to argue that Saturday Night Live isn’t a success story. Even if you don’t like SNL’s comedy, I find it impressive that he’s still producing live sketch television in the 21st century. The number of spin-off movies alone would be enough to justify SNL’s existence. The number of mainstream actors who have emerged from the SNL crucible is hard to believe. This quote reminds us that despite all the great talents involved, they were working under tight time constraints and did not age their skits like wine.
With my book deal impending, I’ve been fighting against worries that I have not done enough with my book, which I’m told will be called Minion of Evil. Could I have given it one more rewrite? After all, I haven’t worked on it in over a year. I could do better now, couldn’t I?
Honestly, I think the resounding answer to both these questions is yes. I think it’s one of those things you’re not supposed to admit, but given more time, I could probably make my book even better. After all, I was working full time at my day job when I did the last revision. I was spending every free moment trying to finish a book that I had been working on for most of a year. By the time I edited the last five chapters, I was in a daze. I couldn’t focus beyond a paragraph at a time. I just wanted it to end.
So, after sending it to my small press editor and getting it approved, I worried that it wasn’t ready, that it wasn’t good enough. That some day, I would regret releasing such an amateurish novel.
Lorne Michaels’ quote above reminded me that done doesn’t mean perfect. It means the best you can do given the time you have. I could work and re-work Minion again and again, hoping my Sisyphean effort would somehow produce great results. Instead, I have chosen to push it out of the nest, or put it into the Nile of a raft made of reeds, or whatever metaphor you prefer. Hopefully, it’s the right decision, but there’s only one way to find out.