My pal Paedric many years ago called me Builder Will – I really like that title – I think it fits me well. I’ve been called many things of course – as a kid it was Capable William Oldacre, which for some reason always rankled me – kind of still does. But Builder Will feels appropriate. At the time he exclaimed it because I was focused – in the midst of some kind of mad-scientist building frenzy in my studio. I don’t even remember what it was.
Lately I’ve been head down working on building in my basement – we’re renovating – which is to say I’m causing my partner Nicky a lot of annoyance. Renovation is a dusty process – otherwise known as divorce dust. I’m sealing the foundation so its dry, insulating, framing, plumbing, wiring and dry-walling. Plus because this was our utility area I’m also fitting out the external features like the laundry exhaust, cable and phone wiring, outside water faucet and electrical for outside motion lights and a socket. This all began around Thanksgiving when we had our furnace boiler and hot water tank replaced along with the majority of old steel pipes that feed the various radiators with a high efficiency on demand system.
Its been a much longer process than I originally envisioned and the project has – of course – ballooned in scope. But you know, I’m okay with it. I enjoy the process of building and designing in my head and the challenge of dealing with all kinds of problems. It’s a 100 year old house after all and not a gut job so I’ve got to graft onto existing infrastructure. Lots of fun.
It’s caused me to reflect a little. I see parallels between my Builder Will mentality and my creative efforts. In the words of Chris Guillebeau – I’m building a legacy. All this effort I’m putting into writing blog posts, making new images, shooting more material, thinking about new projects and investing in equipment, process and materials is all building a legacy. I’m accumulating significant momentum and a mountain of imagery and – actually, it feels good.
There are a lot of times I despair that this is all pointless and worthless but then I console myself in the knowledge that I’m building a legacy – that this in itself is a worthy endeavour.
Keep on trucking – one foot in front of the other.
This morning on further reflection I realized this is actually an issue of faith. I easily have complete faith in my abilities when it comes to working out how to renovate my basement – despite the many obstacles that arise. And believe me there have been some good ones – there always are in an old house. But when it comes to my creative efforts I have a blind spot of sorts. I lack the same level of unquestioning faith – not in my ability to make things or the quality of the workmanship but rather I lack faith in the overall validity of the venture. Is it worthy?
This used to translate into a need for validation of my efforts whenever I presented my images. But in time I’ve come to accept that my work is good and I am deeply satisfied with the results. Lately, I’ve managed to drill down to the nut of my unease. Is this a worthwhile pursuit and how do I decide? I don’t know how to answer – especially considering almost everyone values effort in terms of capital gain. If that’s the measure then the answer is no – not yet – maybe soon. Hopefully soon.
This desire to value my creative efforts in terms of monetary gain is so ingrained that even though I strongly believe it’s an invalid measure – that the truer measure might be spiritual or emotional gain – I keep wanting to measure the money. I am schismed (is that a real word?) by these opposing ideals.
Until I am truly able to have faith in the spiritual/emotional gain ideal or until the capital gain becomes sufficient to survive on, I’ll probably continue to have these doubts. I don’t see how to resolve this disparity – not yet at least. Perhaps I need to stop measuring and just focus on doing. After all, I don’t measure my efforts when it comes to renovating – I just do it.
That’s it! That’s the answer! In the immortal words of Nike – Just Do It!
Ain’t that a laugh.