Lately I've had two realizations, which have driven me to one decision. The realizations are these:
1) Zeigarnik should have killed me by now
2) Ah, the irony!
In this post I will discuss realization #1.
I owe to Jim Benson, among so many other fruitful insights about intangible work, the acquaintance of the Zeigarnik effect. Here's the wikiquickie:
In psychology, the Zeigarnik effect states that people remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks.
Add to that the way I work in my stuff; I once read some work diaries by the poet Giacomo Leopardi, and they were quite alike to my methods, a few centuries later. Example of an entry, the way I remember them:
"I take this flower in my hand...
(both flower and hand are going to fade away, in the same way life etc..., fragility of beauty, etc...)
The zipping of songs in my head works pretty much like that... I may have the gimmick, a few sentences, what should be the lyrics about, a riff that gives the feeling I want, a change of tempo that gives the character... All I need is putting out the hours and I'll have in the world the song that matches the one in my head. It's like pulling out of a thread, and what makes this "unzipping" process exciting is that there is always some 3-10% that you did not expect before going through the effort, and which always tells you something interesting about yourself.
This unzipping process in itself has a lot of "professional response". I've written some hundreds of songs. I belong to a certain artistic tradition, I have a certain "vocabulary" made of thousands of hours of music listened to and loved, I mix it with my experiences and present day weltanschaung, and voilá.
But how come my head has not exploded with all those open threads in my mind? I may be heating up a coffee in the microwave, I mumble something at the random of distraction, and it turns to be 2 new verses for one of those still-to-be new songs. That's a lot of inventory to manage!
That's why I need better production techniques. My goal of having all that stuff from my head properly produced and released, is like the golden grail of 100% value added work for companies. I don't think it's humanely possible to match the speed in which I record tracks, produce them, accommodate them and release them, to the lightning speed at which they are born in my head. But I have to try, it's exciting to try, and I could really use the free space in my head. I can't just ignore those songs, they keep popping out and every song not registered feels like a drowned kitten, like I said somewhere else.
My guess is that I've grown used to the Zeigarnik effect in the same way as those African women who add one ring to their neck every year, until they end up having giraffe-like necks.
Another aspect of the situation is that all those 'open threads' provide an escape, a possibility of expansion that is always there for me. No matter how ugly and full of despair the physical world gets, you always have a possibility of growth available there, you can always "water down" one of your songs a little and have it bloom some more.
Just be careful the garden does not end up suffocating you.
I have a guitar and I'm gonna use it