In this video at 2:35 mark, Quentin Tarantino talks about how everything he makes has to be great because you never know which of your work people will see first.
Howard Hawks was a huge influence on Quentin’s work, and he says that since there are a couple of films of Howard Hawks that aren’t that great, if he had discovered those first then he wouldn’t have dug deeper into Howard Hawk’s work.
This is how it was for me. There are some pieces by Frank Zappa, Steve Vai, or Pearl Jam that I haven’t understood over the years, yet those musicians are my biggest influence. If “Hot Rats” wasn’t the first Frank Zappa CD I ever heard from Full Circle Mike’s reccomendation then I might have gave up. That’s a scary thought because it would have changed my entire life. Maybe I would have became a mechanical engineer instead of a musician? That would still be cool, but the fact that it’s an alternate life is so bizarre to me. That means that all my friends, career, relationships - everything - would have been different.
This is why I aim for perfection - because I never know which piece people will stumble upon first. I also never know which pieces will “hit”, so it all must be great. There are songs I wrote in 2006 that will be someone’s first impression of me which will turn some off - and that bothers me, but there’s nothing I can do about it.
As a creator, you must create the best possible product. You never know who’s watching and you never know which work of yours someone will be introduced to first. You can’t assure that everything is great, but you have to care enough to do your best. Don’t just care for the artwork itself, you have to care about the audience. You have to care about giving them an memorable experience. Anything less is doing them a disservice.
It’s slightly unhealthy for me to think that you’re only as good as your most recent work, but that’s how I see it. Since fate is out of your control, you can at least increase the chances of your content being “sticky” by creating great art that moves people.