“Work expands so as to complete the time available for its completion.”— Cyril Northcote Parkinson, The Economist (1955).
The above adage, known as Parkinson’s Law, has been on my mind since yesterday afternoon.
While artistic endeavors have a general free-flowing nature, it seems essential to set an arbitrary time limit upon the flow. Otherwise, creativity can barely be shared. And, at best, inspiration becomes just another fleeting idea that seemed like a good idea at the time.
There were two central problems with the Return of Spring. First, I made some engineering errors in the initial sessions. Second, I had no deadlines.
I mention the first, admittedly tangential issue because half of the songs I’m completing for this year’s album are “do-overs.” “Water & Wine” and “The Great Divide” were recorded during the “Pullman” session in 2007. “Come Alive” was tracked during the January 2009 sessions that produced most of Spring.
What turned Spring around from being a never ending work-in-progress to a real album was using a deadline. Malamander, in some respects, was a palate cleanser. I had become so frustrated with Spring that I considered throwing the whole project out. I found myself searching. The mountains are a nice place to take creative inventory, by the way. White-water rafting does wonders for the skin.
Unexpectedly, I wrote a new record in the process. That fall, I gave myself an arbitrary deadline of recording three of these new songs each month. Mastering took a one additional month. The record was complete and registered with the Copyright Office in the last days of December of 2009.
Beginning in October of 2010, Spring received a similar application. I completed songs in threes and, by May of 2011, the record was complete.
Yesterday, I had a five hour window in which to finish the first three mixes for this year’s album. Mission accomplished. I especially like two of the three mixes. I’m tempted to go back and tweak the third one. That would, however, break the principle of having a deadline.
Yay, for deadlines.