Sunday, September 6, 2009

Building an Infrastructure

I've been following the amazing bridge repair feat of a lifetime that is happening this weekend on the San Francisco Bay Bridge ( The planning, practice and expertise that have gone into the undertaking are simply amazing. Go watch a video or two, and pay special attention to the faces of the people involved. They seem bemused and proud at the same time, and they fairly vibrate with excitement.

That's what I want to feel about my work every time I sit down to create. And the lessons these bridge builders have to share are lessons for makers of all sorts. Prepare every way you can--practice, have even more materials than you think you'll need, rehearse, know all the tricks of the trade--and then dive in. Tell the world that your work is important enough to inconvenience people for a few days and shut the damn bridge down. Accept the risk of complete collapse and go ahead anyway. It will never happen unless you pull out the tools and start. And then, keep going, because finishing matters. Unexpected problems along the way are no excuse. They found a crack in the old span of the bridge today that would have forced a closure of the bridge whenever it had showed up. But because they had all the pieces in place, the extra materials, the people, the expertise, they're just adding that repair to the weekend's work, and last I heard they still expect to reopen the bridge on time.

In my own search to become more professional in my work habits, I've made a lot of progress, but I have a long way yet to go. I think I'm going to put a picture of the Bay Bridge up in my studio as a reminder. I've got the practice, the materials and the knowledge. Now I just need to block out the time, shut down outside traffic, and do it.