My husband and I decided, after noting water damage, that it was time to update the one bathroom in our late 1930s bungalow. This isn’t our first remodeling project. We’ve knocked down walls and installed sliding doors, built a deck, gutted our kitchen, refinished hardwood floors. But as I troweled globs of Thinset on my bathroom walls, slapped ceramic tiles in place over and over again and choked back the urge to strangle my husband, I thought how this particular project resembled the emotional and physical rollercoaster I endure as a writer.
I learned a few lessons about myself:
1. Reading how-to books helps, but it won’t make you a professional.
2. Enthusiasm for a project tends to whither about halfway through. Suck it up. Not finishing is not an option.
3. When the end feels so unattainable you want to curl up in your tub and cry, go ahead and do it. Then take a deep breath and get back to work.
4. Mistakes occur. Some will look awful. Fix them and move on.
5. Sometimes your original vision changes. This can be a good thing if you go with the flow.
6. Details matter, especially when it comes to trim.
7. Small errors aren’t noticable when surrounded by high-quality, coordinated materials.
8. Sometimes stripping down and starting over is the best choice you can make.
9. It will take twice as long as your original estimate to achieve your goal.
10. The only way to become a true craftsman is to slop on comfy clothes and do it every day for years and years.
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Originally published at Kidlit Central, August 5th, 2008 by Colleen Ryckert Cook