Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Going Pro as a Woodworker: Part 1 - Is it for you? The Dark Side

I was traveling before six in the morning recently, on my way to do a personal appearance as a woodworker. There was a big chance that I would hit snow driving north in the early hours. Why was I up and about at that time, driving into who knows what? As dawn broke I saw other people, grim faced, headed to work. This caused me to think about some of the other jobs to which I had trudged, day after day, five days a week. Who do I have to answer to now? What makes me do this? Is it worthwhile?

On 11 AM on Christmas Day past, celebration was interrupted with loading a rocker into an SUV to make a delivery to a local bank president's family. I had worked nonstop for two to three weeks to finish the rocker as a Christmas present from a father to a daughter's family. Everybody else was Christmas shopping, wrapping presents, cooking Christmas goodies, but I was in the shop with rasps, scrapers and sandpaper in hand. The muscle memory is easy when you are constantly moving your hand and arm back and forth, back and forth, forth and back, on and on. Why? Why? Why? When I finish this rocker, fortunately I get to craft another one and do this all over again!

My hands have grown gloves. They are rough. They are a purple-lish brown all the time from the walnut. I've got a scar running across my palm and an index finger that always feels like it has an electrical current running through it as a reminder of what can happen while working half asleep.

It's all about your point of view at the time. You have to be able see the big picture, understand what motivates you, knowing that nothing worthwhile comes without sacrifice, and that the possibility to achieve only comes when we complete the drill. You also have to work hard at the task at hand, be it sanding, measuring, coming up with a work around, paying the bills, working on the website or planning to connect with someone with enough money and interest to pay you to build one.

Sounds like a great life! Huh? It is not for everybody. I am not an overnight success with the DVD bundle. A good friend explained it to me recently. "You learned your trade one success and one failure at a time for thirty years building furniture. You worked your plan to finish raising a family as a full-time educator while you worked nights building furniture commissions for clients. You retired from one career at the same time you finished the DVD, book and pattern bundle to go with teaching sculptured rocker making at Highland Woodworking. You paid your dues many times over. You finished the drill!"

Sam Maloof told hundreds of woodworkers and want-to-be pros at his workshops that with all his talent, making a living was hard. He said the mailman would eagerly celebrate with him with the coming of a check and despair at delivering the bills. If you have mouths to feed it all becomes real very fast. You have to have support. Meaning there has got to be someone willing to carry your water while you work your plan.

Can you finish the drill? The next post will explain why finishing the drill can be worth it to you!

Part 2 - Is it for You? The Thrill of it All!

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