I may have mentioned that friends of ours offered to sell us their cabin. If I were to use an euphemism, I’d call it a fixer-upper. And that is what we have spent a lot of time doing this summer–fixing up our cabin.
It’s a sweet little cabin in a fabulously beautiful area. I love it.
But it is a lot, I repeat, a lot of work. When we got it, there were no footings or foundation under half the cabin. Our friend had decided to dig out under the cabin and create a basement space, and the cabin was sitting on screw jacks (think stilts). That was our first order of business–to get the building on a foundation and get it weather tight before winter. We bought in July and worked all summer/fall on it.
So this last weekend, we installed French doors in the now enclosed basement. And I had a sudden writing/personality insight. Sometimes that happens late at night. I thought I’d tell you what I learned.
Friday night after regular work, we changed into construction clothes and began to physically work. French doors are harder to install than a single door, and my Mister had to build a frame for the doorway. We measured and measured again, cut and nailed the frame together. We lifted it into place. Then we took it down and measured and cut again. Then when the doors were installed and level, we found they didn’t meet equally at the top and bottom. This was a longer process than we’d anticipated, and it was getting late, and it was getting cold. (The altitude at the cabin is 8500 feet. It can get really cold).
So, I was tired, freezing, and frustrated, and I thought, “There is a point of diminishing returns. We are just hitting our heads against a brick wall. We should stop now. We should go in and get warm and get a good night sleep. We could let this problem percolate, and the solution will come to us. We’ll begin again in the morning when we are fresh. Everything will go smoother.” That’s what I thought.
But Mister Watson can’t, literally can’t leave a project half finished. It’s that Idaho farm boy mentality. Once he begins something, he’s going to muscle through, no matter how difficult, how frustrating, how late, how cold. He may snarl and grip, but he will finish that work! Well as you can see, he did finish it. It was late, but he slept in peace.
Now one of us is much, much more productive in life. And one of us is much more relaxed and easy going. Guess which is which.
I will say that mostly I am content with my personality. I don’t experience much stress or anxiety. I am happy most of the time. But I think in my writing I should work a little more to follow my husband’s example. I often write myself into a little brick wall. I think, “I’ve been sitting here staring at this screen for long enough. This is hard, and I am tired. If I just quit today and let the problem percolate a little, maybe the solution will come to me. Sometimes “percolating” lasts longer than one day. And I end up writing in fits and starts.
But every writer knows, at least theoretically, that the first draft just needs to be written. I know I just need to push through and write something. It’s okay if it’s garbage. That’s why we edit–and you can’t edit a blank page (and a dozen other quotes). I know I need to set that daily writing goal and keep writing until I reach the finish line, even when I’m hitting my head against that brick wall. In writing I need to be an Idaho farm girl and just refuse to stop until the job (daily goal) is accomplished.
French doors and late night insights at the cabin.
Which are you? Do you take a break and come back fresh? or Do you muscle through and get it done? And if you do that, do you have any tips for those of us who are trying to change our writing personality?