In 1990, I was fresh out of college, working my first job at The Greenville News and terrified of being fired.
During my first year on the job as reporter I hit a patch where I made a string of minor errors in my stories that required the newspaper to print corrections or clarifications the next day. And it seemed the harder I worked to get things right, the worse things got.
After a couple weeks of this it got to the point where I couldn’t open the second-floor door to the newsroom. I just froze at the top of the beige-painted stairwell and stared at the fire door.
I had no idea what to do next. So I opened the door and resolved to ride it into the dirt.
At this point in the tale, I’m supposed to tell you that things took a turn for better. That I became a stronger person and a better journalist. But that would be bull#$&@. It got worse.
I made an error in a story about a huge oil spill at a golf course. I misspelled the name of the oil pipeline company at least a dozen times in my story. I should have been fired that day. But I suppose my editor took pity on me.
But even that wasn’t the bottom of the well. Hitting bottom was so painful I can’t really talk about the event except with close friends and my wife. And that wretched weekend is where things started to turn around for me as a writer and a journalist.
What does this have to do with woodworking? For me, everything. When I hit a rough patch in a project or a design, I have found that the only way out for me is to drive the car off the cliff and into the sea. I have to find bottom so I can push off that and find air.
I’ve tried other strategies – walking away from a project and then coming back to it with a fresh attitude and new ideas. For me that’s like pressing “pause” on the Betamax. It only prolongs the inevitable.
Today I am looking for the bottom with this design for a backstool. It has to be around here somewhere.
— Christopher Schwarz