Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Driven to the edge... of what?

I’ve never thought of myself as a ‘driven’ man, in fact I often lament the fact I don’t have more drive. That I don’t get more done, accomplish more, try more things, that I never seem to have enough time.

Lately, well for a few years now, I’ve also felt, well, older. I don’t have the energy I once did that’s for sure, I’ve written lately about some of the things I’ve done. I didn’t mention though, that back then, a sixteen hour day was not unusual, in fact it was pretty common.

All along I’ve been thinking that somewhere, something in me changed, that I’d lost the edge.

Then today, Spirit of Owl types this in a comment:

"If I don't do this, it'll be ok, and maybe nobody will even know... except me!"

That just about sums me up. In everything I attempt and especially those things I work on alone, that phrase, or one almost exactly the same, haunts me. It used to be much worse though, if I ‘cut a corner’ on a project I’d think about it, replay it actually, in my head, attempting to justify the corner I’d cut. In some cases, I didn’t even own the car, truck or house in question any longer.

Eventually, I realized that the only person, the work behind any project really matters to, is the one doing the project. No one cares how many times John Grisham rewrote a paragraph, how many times a story started and dried up on him before he finished it. Folks do care though, about the appearance of the finished product.

You could build a house, one perfectly square, with every stud, rafter and joist exactly 16” on center. The plumbing and electrical systems could be works of art, in and of themselves. The doors, windows, light switches and fixtures perfectly placed. But, if the finish on the drywall is sloppy, or the trim uneven or poorly matched, that is what will be noticed.

I can get lost in the details sometimes, but, I always have a vision. Right now, I can ‘see’ that truck finished. I’m not saying ‘see’ in an abstract sense either, I mean I can close my eyes, concentrate and ‘take a tour’ of that truck. Front to back, top to bottom, from the inside out, or the outside in, 3D and Technicolor. Some folks would say it’s a blessing, some a curse. I’m somewhere in the middle.

The problem is though, because I can see it, I can’t leave things ‘undone’. If you look at the picture where I’ve cut out the panel from the truck bed as an example, there’s some surface rust in there, nothing serious. In fact a wire brush and a shot of undercoating would probably work just fine. In my minds eye however, it’s been sandblasted clean and repainted so it looks as good as, or better than, it did new.

I wonder at times, am I the only one who feels like this? That it just has to be right or I’ll never really be happy with the result? I know now, that there’s at least one other person, Spirit, who at least knows the feeling.

I’ve also got to mention, that Firehawk’s comment on how what he found most interesting were the register marks and writing on the panels:

“The best part of the pictures has to be all the notations drawn on the panels with Sharpies. I liked the guidelines and angle notes and so forth.”

Those took forever to get right. I’m a real believer in, when working with body panels, measure four times, cut once and measure everything again. If this were wood, I could just run down to Lowe’s and get another 2x4. Here, if I cut one time and take too much off, I’m pretty much hosed. A single mistake becomes a geometric increase in the amount of time, and work involved at that point, not too mention the increase in my frustration level.

Then there’s the other problem with this ‘vision’ thing. I’m the only one who can see it. I don’t have the drawing ability of a Chip Foose, so about the only way anyone ever sees one of my visions, is if I actually build it. I tried to explain an idea I have for the graphics to my wife today. I was pretty excited about it and tried to ‘paint a picture with words for her. Just didn’t work.

It kind of reminded me of when we were remodeling this house before we moved in. She had no idea what I had in mind. She just had faith in me, that not only could I think it, I could also do it. I love her for that. For the way she just flat believes in me, not sort of, not half way, full flat out 100 percent committed belief.

Whenever I get discouraged, and believe me I do, she’ll just say to me “Just don’t loose your vision, you’ll get it done, you always do”.

So, to you two guys, thanks for noticing. I know I’ll get this done, eventually, although I keep hoping for sooner rather than later!


Firehawk said...


You're certainly right about what people notice. It's the one dropped stitch in the rug that they'll harp on, regardless of how much good work went on around it. I find myself doing it, too, and it's disappointing.

I always find that the process, when I can see it and understand/at least comprehend what's involved, lets me appreciate the end product a lot more. It's like--when you've landscaped your whole yard from nothing, putting in all the plants and raking all the gravel, cutting fence posts and mixing concrete, you suddenly "see" other well-done yards. You know what sort of sweat is on that dirt. It's the same as getting the new appreciation for a piece of music when you've tried to play it and realized how tough the progressions are. The more you've attempted (and certainly failed at times!), the more you can treasure another person's masterwork.

Don't we all wish we could draw like Chip Foose! I'd be so impressed with myself that I'd probably be no good for anything after that.

Anyway, thanks for singling my little statement for commentary.

Beth said...

We're going through a full home renovation right now and I can't agree with you enough. It's all about the details. It can be so daunting. Cutting corners, taking the easy way out, doing a cob job ... sounds great, BUT you have to live with it.

It's like mopping instead of scrubbing a floor. Sure, you "cleaned" it, but it just isn't clean.

I totally get you, Bill!

Bill said...

Firehawk - You're welcome.. and yeah.. Chip really can draw... and he makes it look so easy!

Knowing the process... yep, you're 100% right... you start to see the work involved once you've actually done it.

Knitter - Thanks... you have my empathy during your renovations... and my wishes for a wonderful result! I know we enjoy remembering all the work we put in here :)

Braleigh said...

I agree- one is so much more appreciative of a project's outcome when they understand exactly what it takes to come up with the final result. Failure helps to appreciate greatness, whether it be your own, or someone else's.

Spirit Of Owl said...

Seems like your drive is maybe slightly in too high a gear, Bill. :)

You took a holiday recently, and said you weren't too keen to get back to work the next day. But then, I'll bet you were up before 5am and getting on with projects by 7. You're a guy with drive, alright.

(I could have done a truck/drive pun couldn't I? But it would be just too groan inducing. LOL)

If things take a little longer now, it's all the better for reflection, chewing the cud while you go from this task to that. And I'll tell you something, given the option I'd bring my vehicle to you every time, pay what was necessary, and I'd wait as long as it took, rather than give it to some quick, cheap cowboy. Every time.

Besides, we're going to get a far more detailed blow by blow account here on the blog if you take a little more time over it. It's good for us, at least, then. :)

jenbeauty said...

Your drive amazes me Bill. Really it is pretty inspiring with exactly how much you do and how much you write about.

*I* can barely keep my house in order let alone worry about the details some days.

Master of None said...

Great advice to heed, regardless of one's age.

No_Newz said...

We are our worst critics. Here's to hoping you get done what needs doing and to your own satisfaction. :)
Lois Lane

Trevor Record said...

16 hour days.... Something that should be avoided like the plague in jobs that require thinking.

Comfort Addict said...

Hmmm. You have always struck me as someone who has drive, Bill. You and I seem similar. We both like to get things right. Whether it's in my music or with computers, I think of Joe DiMaggio. He played hard all the time because "there might be somebody out there who's never seen me play before." To me, it's also a matter of honor (or OCD).

Bill said...

Braleigh - Thanks, that's how I see it anyway. If I'm not failing, I'm not trying hard enough :)

Spirit - You may be right, but I always have liked 'high gear' and running flat out. I'm glad though that you're enjoying my accounts... I sure enjoy writing them.

Jen - My *house* isn't exactly in order... but that's not one of those things that I stress over. If I've got room to do, whatever it is I'm doing.. not much else really bothers me. :)

Master of None - Thanks, I just toss 'em out there, I'm glad you're finding a truth od two along the way!!

Lois - Amen... that we are, someone told me once, that if I didn't have stress in my life, I'd invent some... they may have been right! :)

Trevor - back then, it was mostly muscle work... well, until the 80's anyway!

Comfort Addict - OCD.. may be at the root of it all, who knows. I do know, it's definitely an internal drum, until it's done, then, I do like ot hear that someone likes it!

Thanks again everyone, the feedback is really appreciated!