“I should have had better jokes.” The neurosis of shipping

In a recent episode of WTF, Marc Maron says something to the effect of “considering it was an HBO special, I probably should have gone in there with better jokes.”

So the story is: he had an HBO special (a coveted thing) and he went in with no set, just fly by the seat of your pants Maron, angry, insightful, demons et. al.. The show was good, but he feels he should have cared a little more.

It struck me because I’m getting close to shipping something I’ve spent some time on – a book-ish kind of thing – and I vacillate between two minds about it:

  1. Just put something out there; the best I can do right now. Start the process see what you learn from your first “product.”
  2. Spend an extra couple of months, make it even better, more coherent; “film is forever.” Give it a longer shelf life.

On one side it’s: fuck it, you can’t deal with the pressure of perfection right now. Get the thing out there and get the feedback on it and maybe make it better later. You’re isn’t a fucking HBO special, alright pal? You can change it later on.

On the other side someone’s quoting ‘passages’ from Better: Do less ‘meh.’ Spend some more time caring, not only for your product, but also for your customers/readers/buyers. It’s your first one, it says something about you when it comes out and lands with quality. Don’t give a decent reader anywhere the ability to say, “Some ok points, a bit too fluffy.”

These questions have to do with a lot more than just this current project. What “jokes” would I bring to my “HBO special”? It’s terrifying to think of the finality of shipping something like that. There’s a real neurosis there, potentially keeping people from shipping in the end.

It seems all the big things I care about come in paradoxes: hold her close, keep her free. It’s all so meaningful, but nothing matters. Ship your best stuff, but don’t not ship.

Maybe “good” is a moving target, a threshold we can move around. Though I’d call my product “good enough” right now, I think I can probably edit it to be stronger. There’s some law of diminishing returns somewhere… getting used to that is probably the art in shipping well.

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