Here Knuth reflects on his early pioneering work in digital publishing and typeface creation:
When I first began to use a computer to produce letter forms, I thought the task would be easy. But actually I had to work on the task for five years before I got anything that satisfied me. And the first book that came out was a great disappointment to me after I saw it in print. I BURNED with disappointment – I actually felt a hot flash when I first saw it. I opened the covers, expecting to be really happy, but “Oh, no!” it was back to the drawing boards; still more work was needed.
When you design something yourself you are overly sensitive to it. You can’t view it dispassionately. If I’m watching a lecture in which my fonts appear in the slides, I can’t concentrate on that lecture; I keep wondering whether I shouldn’t have changed the letter S a little bit. I’m sure all artists go through this trauma. The more subjective a task is, the harder it is for you to know that you have produced anything of quality.
-Donald Knuth, Things a Computer Scientist Rarely Talks About, p.131
I don’t have much to say about this. The highlighted sections are ridiculously true. Don’t forget.