For as long as I can remember, my dad’s always had some sort of woodshop. When my sisters and I were young, he’d make us wooden puzzles like the one with the horseshoes connected by chain links and you have to figure out how to get the metal ring off the shoes. (Perhaps this explains my love of puzzles but that’s for a different post.)
Anyway, from a young age, the smell of sanded wood and poly stain has equaled spending time with my dad and learning new skills.
So, of course, it created in me a love of woodworking. There’s something cathartic about sanding wood with the grit covering your hands and the smell of pine in the air. And unlike writing a book where the progress can be muddy and hard to see, each step of woodworking shows progress.
Don’t get me wrong, there are oopses that happen, but just like the progress, they’re easy to see and you know fairly quickly if the piece can be salvaged.
Each step brings its own sense of accomplishment.
For me, it’s almost the exact opposite of novel writing. In writing, there’s a constant challenge to see the progress as actual forward motion toward a beautiful end. This might be a writer’s curse to constantly question if the project is ever finished. In woodworking, the steps are clear and the sense of accomplishment is easily defined. I find I gravitate toward both of these things for different reasons. The challenge in the writing and the clearly defined steps in the woodworking. They complement each other.
For me, that balance is essential. If I focus only on writing, especially as I’m editing like I am right now, I bog down in the mud of the middle. But if I pair it with a different project such as woodworking, I find both an outlet for my overworked brain and a reminder of the sense of accomplishment I’ll find at the end of editing. One activity lends perspective to the other, which gives me a sense of peace in the process that otherwise wouldn’t be there.
P.S. Pictures are from a recent project my dad and I put together from leftover wood. It’s a live edge shelf! As for the developmental editing of HMII, I’m about 35% done 🙂