It started as an ugly shell – just hand-sawn timbers and rough plywood. Our wilderness cabin wasn’t meant to be anything more than a fishing shack, and that’s all it was for many years.
Then the dynamics of our family changed and we decided it had cottage potential. We began to modify the shack to make it habitable year ‘round. The porch was closed in and insulation, wallboard and flooring were added. A wall went up to create a 6’ x 7’ back-corner bedroom. Cedar siding rescued from a demolished city house finished the exterior.
Improvements were gradual, but through the years each renovation and refinement made our little cabin in the woods more livable. A recent expansion doubled the design to a generous (?) 480 square feet, and now the exterior has been re-clad in recycled vinyl siding.
What was once ugly has become passably attractive. The drafty fishing shack is now snug even at -35 degrees. It’s still rustic, without electricity or running water, but it has morphed into something relatively comfortable.
The cabin’s metamorphosis could be a metaphor about novel writing. I know, I know… you have to stretch your imagination a bit here, but think about it. We start with an idea, begin constructing the bare bones, flesh it out, stand back and evaluate, and then revise the whole configuration until it becomes an organized and interesting story. At each stage it’s recognizable, but not particularly exciting. It takes a lot of work and a fair amount of know-how to develop the initial idea into a solid structure.
I wonder how many shacks in the woods were destined to become more elaborate buildings.
Do you have many sketchy ideas in your notebook waiting to be developed into something more? How much planning will be needed before they take shape? Will you draw up a detailed blueprint first or construct as you go?