Makers and Flippers

4040456368_8bf09758c3_mA friend of mine has started a business flipping houses. We live in a lucrative market for this kind of thing, and she’s a very practical banker sort who has systems in place to make renovations fairly standard–the kind of kitchen needed for most houses, the flooring that’s attractive and yet not too expensive, the bathroom upgrades people need.  She’s a business woman.

I would love flipping houses. The great project of my thirties was saving a house build in 1912. It was a mess when we bought it for a song and sweat equity, and I do mean a mess–almost everything had to be redone: the crumbling plaster ceilings, the electricity, the plumbing, the floors, the crooked windows.  Even over the course of the nearly twenty years I spent there, not all of it was finished, but I saved that beautiful old house. We fixed her bones and her bricks, sanded the splintering pine floors, replaced all the wiring and 90% of the plumbing.

I’d love to do more of that–saving old houses, taking out the old ugly things and replacing them with more beautiful stuff.  My friend knows this, but when it came to partners for this kind of business, she went to a couple of her more practical friends.

As she should have. She’s a flipper.

I’m a maker. I don’t want the practical pods of the usual kitchen makeover. I want to enter each kitchen and gauge the light and imagine what woods would compliment the era and what might make it the most beautiful kitchen ever. I would never do it for the money, because I make things. Books, of course. Now my paintings and drawings. Gardens. Food. My goal in flipping a house would be to make it into something I would live in happily forever–and that would be a sure way to lose money.

The thing is, makers have to learn to be business people, too, especially in the current world. It’s great that I want to write (and cook and paint and garden) but I also have to live in the real world. I have to eat. I don’t have a patron, though husbands kind of count, since they share the load and make loans upon request. Being a maker, I want to make things all the time, all day long–and luckily, it doesn’t matter what it is. I’m happy painting. I’m happy writing (writing a blog or a novel or a letter). I’m happy digging in the earth to plant seeds to make my garden.  The trick of my day is to keep the money-making aspects of making, the commercial fiction, occupy the most vigorous part of my day. Thus, I’m writing this morning. When I’ve done my words, I’ll make a loaf of pumpkin bread for a friend who is mourning. Later this afternoon, I hope to have some time to work on my drawing.

A lot of my friends are makers, and I bet a lot of you are, too.  Tell me about your projects of the moment. If you’re a flipper like my friend, I’d love to hear about that, too.

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