Monday, September 20, 2010

If the women can't find you handsome

I always knew when Red Green was on television. I would hear great gasps of laughter coming from my husband. Nothing else ever elicited that kind of laugh. Red Green was a character of actor Steve Smith's. A bumbling do-it-yourselfer who belonged to a lodge of equally memorable characters. One of his lines was, "If the women can't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy."

Fortunately, I find my husband both handsome and handy.

Last week, we hired another handyman, though, to build, plumb and electrify a new laundry area on our main floor. I took inordinate pleasure in having Adam here, working away, and I tried to analyze why. Did I enjoy the feeling of being the Lady of the Manor? Did I enjoy the company of another person in the house while I worked? It was neither of those really.

What I love about having a handy-person around is that they make my creative vision into reality.

My own hand-eye coordination is limited. I'm not a technical person - as a toddler, my daughter once looked up at me in amazement and said, "YOU can fix?" Yes, honey. A little bit.

I can cook and tell stories. Those are my main creative outlets. But I also have a larger creative vision that primarily involves my home. The problem is that other than describing what I want done and choosing the paint colours, I'm really not very useful. It can be frustrating. Plus Dave has a job, which means he isn't always available to "make it so!"

Enter Adam.

I was embarking on the beginning of my new novel - the one that has been brewing in the back of my mind all summer - as Adam came to our house a week or so ago. I had researched all summer and then circled the story like a cold pool, ready but not quite ready to take the plunge.

We ripped out the old purple wall - okay, Dave ripped it out - a few days before Adam arrived. Our office looked like a television stage set with the wall missing.

Everyone went back to school and I sat down and began to write. It reminded me, oddly enough of the stomach flu - only instead of uncontrollable vomit and heaving, I had copious words and ideas flowing from my pen. I told a friend that if I didn't have to eat and sleep and rest my brain, I could keep writing endlessly.

And then Adam arrived. He set to work, quietly and methodically and by the end of that first day, he had hammered in the wooden frame that would be the walls of the new laundry area and the doorway to the foreshortened office.

I felt like I was watching my own process made visible.

It was very satisfying.

It turns out a novel takes longer to hatch than a laundry room. And a laundry room, possibly, pays better. We did our first load of laundry last night and there were no leaks, no sprays, no running down to the dingy basement. I felt like a queen. But a substantial part of that satisfaction was that someone, once again, had taken my ideas and direction and made it real.

My job is to bring the same workmanship and craftsmanship to the novel. And then, hopefully, to experience even deeper satisfaction from being the one who can make it so.

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