Today is February first. In addition to things like Black History Month, President’s Day, and whatever else is celebrated in February,* it also marks the beginning of the annual RPM Challenge.
Think of the RPM Challenge as the musical equivalent of November’s National Novel Writing Month. The Challenge, which started in my home state of New Hampshire back in 2006 by local music magazine The Wire, is a call to record either 35 minutes or 10 tracks worth of new music in the month of February.
It’s a lot of fun. Or would be, if I ever finished the challenge.
Unlike National Novel Writing Month, which I accomplished this year, the several times I’ve began an RPM Challenge project, I never finished it.
The one time I sort of did was in 2009 when I played bass on my brother’s album. He’s finished the challenge four or five times, now, maybe more. And he has more kids than I do.
Me, I always petered out somewhere along the line, sometimes due to time restrictions, sometimes due to technical or equipment difficulties, but usually due to being my own worst enemy.
You see, back when I had the music equipment and the space to record, I fell into the thrall of that dreaded monster perfection.
Perfection is one mean bastard. He gets into your head and makes you think you’re some kind of rock star when you’re really just a dude with a 9-to-5 and a hankering to pretend, just for a few hours here and there, that you’re something bigger than you really are.
And there’s nothing wrong with that.
This is the difference between me and my brother: I let perfection play on my immaturity and narcissism. My brother, while only a year and some change older than me, got married, started a family, and finished school far younger than I did.
In short, he grew up faster.
He knew the value of time and realism. He didn’t dicker around with trying to get everything just right. No, he said to himself, and I’m making this up based on observations but bear with me, “There is something I want to do. If I do X, Y, and Z for this amount of time every day, I will accomplish what I set out to do.”
He had a goal, and a system to achieve that goal.
Process and not perfection.
In short, he went for it.
Me, not so much. Continue reading “Feeding the Perfection Beast”