My wife has an amazing ability to see something not for what it is, but what it can be. Over the course of our almost nineteen years of marriage, we've purchased four houses--each one a step up from where we had lived before. In each case, we've left the house much better than we found it. And the vast majority of the time, we did the work ourselves--or at least most of it. I can truly understand why they call it "sweat equity".
In our most recent house, there was an unfinished section above our two car garage. It was actually one of the deciding factors for us to buy the house--because my wife and I knew we could turn it into living space. There is a term for such an area: FROG. It means Finished Room Over Garage. Now, when I first heard the term, I wasn't enthralled by it. I didn't really relish the thought of spending time inside a frog.
As with most projects, there was more than one way to tackle it. Over the years, I've learned to follow my wife's lead and let her be the brains while I play the "dumb muscle". Aside from avoiding fights over what to do next, I'll have to admit the projects turn out much better. In other words, the project is her baby, and I'm there to help.
Now, that isn't to say that I won't have an opinion on certain things time and again. However, I've learned that there are times when you say, "OK, this is your project, go for it." And then there are times when you say, "You know, I really feel strongly that perhaps we should try this instead."
This whole concept draws an eerie parallel to writing. While I was writing The Hidden Sun, I had several people read the story before I finally signed off on it. Each one had their own opinions on what they liked and didn't like, or thought could be better. Sometimes I felt that these suggestions were excellent and I incorporated them. Other times. . . not so much. But as a good friend of mine keeps telling me, "Ultimately, it is your story."
With the book out, I've gotten enough feedback from people that overall I've succeeded with what I was trying to do--aside from a few typos that were missed in the editing process. Will everyone like it? Nah. And that's ok.
All this reminds me of the Communications Law class I took for my degree. For our final paper, we had to choose a controversial topic and argue both sides, using court cases to back up our conclusions. I chose "Censorship on TV." There was a great quote from Max Headroom (look him up if you don't know who I am talking about) that went, "Ever wonder how successful censorship is on TV? Don't know the answer? Hmmmm. . .successful, isn't it?"
So I wrote this paper. We had to submit it to a fellow student as well as the teacher. The fellow student gave it high marks, saying I argued both sides well.
The teacher? He gave me a "B." When I questioned him on why I got the grade I did, his response was, "I don't think any of that filth should be on TV--you didn't argue enough to have it censored."