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Down time

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As I finish my latest woodworking book, it marks the last of what seemed like a dozen simultaneous writing projects. That means no money coming in. It also means free time.

Getting assignments from woodworking publishers is no less cyclical than kitchen jobs are for you cabinet guys. In fact, it’s nearly identical. Sometimes you have several jobs coming in, meaning you have to stretch yourself very thin or start turning some down because you know that, realistically, you just can’t add another piece of production to your schedule and get it done well in a timely manner. A homeowner with money in his pocket wants a kitchen by a certain date; a publisher with money in the freelance budget wants an article by a certain date. In both examples, to meet the date you have to either work the job fast and hard and without a life, or pass on the job. Neither is desirable.

But then, neither is having no life. I have a very long list of tasks needing done around the house, some of which are chores I’ve put off up to a year and more. Some are mundane and only tangentially related to woodworking, like reorganizing my office in an efficient manner; others are more important and directly related to woodworking, like building a prototype of a piece of furniture that I already know will guarantee an assignment that pays very well. Most of the rest – although they’re all woodworking-related – fall somewhere in between. And some of these are personal projects that will be purely enjoyable.

Unfortunately, it’s this last category that’s the hardest to achieve. I will eventually have to reorganize my office, as it’s making work difficult, and household things needing repair must be done when they occur and have a way of rising to the top. But the enjoyable things always seem to get sacrificed when more important woodworking – meaning, the woodworking that pays – takes precedence.

However, just like for cabinet shops where there’s often a lull between waves of commissions and there’s sometimes a bit of a breather between the time you take a commission and when you have to put it into production, the same thing happens for the woodworking media. I see that lull coming right about now.

It means stretching our household budget for a while, but it also means personal, enjoyable shop time. And that’s something I haven’t had in a long time.

Till next time,


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