Rendered Fat Content


I find every heuristic comparing preparation time to total work time unreliable.

Writing isn't always 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. For me, it's often 90% milling around trying to maintain some semblance of self esteem while waiting for inspiration, 1/2 of 1 percent inspiration, and the other 9 1/2 percent mildly pleasing exercise. No sweat at all. Other times it's 100% just doing it. Still other times it's 110% not accomplishing anything at all.

I've been "repainting" my house this summer. No painting involved yet. The house is 100 years old. Last summer, Amy and I painted the west side of the house, and that job took a lot more time than estimated, mostly because we had no idea what was lurking underneath the paint.

Same challenge this summer, where the focus has been the south side. Different weather conditions aged the surface. Different past strategies for dealing with problem spots. Some genuis decided, for instance, to smear silicon caulk on the most weathered boards before the last repainting. The silicon protected the boards from further decay, but also provides a dandy barrier to refinishing the boards to eliminate the feathering and raised grain weathering produced.

I started in June, hopeful that I would just be able to scrape off the few visible bits of loose paint. But there was more loose paint than I’d anticipated. And a lot more securely stuck blobs of silicon than I could have imagined. Here’s how it looked after scraping:

So, I hesitantly accepted that if I wanted a proper paint job, and not just another color wash to cover and compound past mistakes, I’d have to take the surface down to bare wood.

It’s almost October now. When I’ve been home, I’ve managed five or six hours a day on what I’ve grown to lovingly (and sometimes not so enduringly) call The Wall. I’m still an indeterminate distance from finishing the preparation, and I see no relationship between work done and work remaining --- or preparation done and actual painting time to come. I feel autumn’s chill stalking me.

Today it’s raining, but since the roof overhang protects the current preparation spot, I’ll spend the day scraping again. Low and dry.

Dedication can replace prediction. Much of what we engage in these days cannot be estimated and the uncertainty will not be dispatched with clever little heuristics. The vision of the finished work helps fuel continued motivation. Much of the work we do can teach us how to do it if we can accept the role of student and discard the role of wise predictor.

The meta-preparation required to succeed in this work is mental, not physical. It is a dedication test which must be taken and passed over and over again. When the scraper hand swells and the shoulder aches, will you take to the ladder again? When it rains, will you find a convenient distraction? When autumn’s chill morning whispers discouragement, will you still stand and silently prepare, trusting that the time for painting will come?
blog comments powered by Disqus

Made in RapidWeaver