When we moved into our last house, I had a vision for my kitchen and family room. Those “two” rooms were a large open space, divided by a bar-height counter and a set of upholstered bar stools. Now keep in mind that this was the nineties.To coordinate with my rose and green plaid drapes and couches, I wanted an old-fashioned small print floral wallpaper inside two glass doored cabinets and on the bulkhead above. While I like to design, I am not very good at implementing projects like painting and wallpapering. So I asked around and called the paper hanger that was most highly recommended.
I can no longer remember his name, though “Jim” pops into my head. He was of retirement age with white hair and a nasty case of diabetes, but he was still working full-time. When he arrived in his rusted and dented panel truck, he spent some time examining the wallpaper rolls I had purchased. Then he began hauling out all manner of sawhorses and drop cloths and tools. By noon he had converted my garage into an elaborate workroom.
By 5PM he had finished measuring and preparing the walls. I figured he would start pasting up the wallpaper the next morning. I was wrong. He did arrive by 8AM, but he still had more prepping to do. I asked him why it was taking him so long to prep. He said, “I’ve been doing this a long time. More’n forty years. If I spend my time prepping, the job will go quickly and there won’t be any mistakes.”
I probably rolled my eyes when I left the room. But once he started putting up the pretty wallpaper, I was able to watch him complete the room, even with a trim border, in an hour. One hour to wallpaper my kitchen. And it looked perfect, with invisible seams and absolutely no bubbles. Clean edges.
Later, I had him wallpaper my kids’ bedrooms, too, and he did the same excellent job by putting the focus on the prep, not on the final step.
Whenever I have a job to do, I tend to think back to Jim and what he taught me with his work technique. His method can be applied to many projects.
In fact, I was thinking today about how writing a book is turning out to be like paper hanging Jim’s way. By writing 200,000 words in scenes ahead of time, and by taking the time to really plan out how to structure it all, I suspect that when I put it all together, that will be the fastest part of the writing.
P.S. I’ve been super busy at work lately, so I am really frustrated that I don’t have time to work on the book, but when you let me chat about it on here, it helps keep me motivated, so thank you!