Running a very high-end restaurant and a pottery studio has one major issue in common: every day you go in, and you create from scratch something over and over again. The major challenge is to not become bored, or to hurry through it with your mind elsewhere, or to become deadened to the process and just create by rote. All of these things have happened to me over the years, and when I'm there, I don't even like my job anymore and I feel like a failure. As an artist, this is the most painful place to be. Thomas Keller writes about maintaining passion for the endlessly repeated acts he performs in the kitchen, and he does this by giving each step his full attention. When you give something your full attention, no matter how mundane, you have the opportunity to be filled not with boredom and the urge to rush, but with a sense of wonder and pleasure with your process.
I know this, but still, I can find myself in the studio, banging stuff out as quickly as I can and just trying to get through the day. Reading Keller's cookbook has re-focused me in the studio and made me once again realize that the finished product is worthless to me if I don't enjoy the process.
Both potters and cooks know there are all of these steps that happen in between the idea of what you want to make, and then the finished product. Most of the time what you have at the end is not something that is perfect, or exactly how you imagined it. But this does not necessarily decrease its value. Thomas Keller writes in his book that we must acknowledge there is no such thing as perfect food--or pottery-- only the idea of it. But that doesn't mean we don't strive for perfection anyway. We continue to try for one purpose: to make people happy.