Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Listening to the Experts


by Nancy Farrier

Sweat beaded on my brow as I lifted a hand to test the flow from the air duct. No question. Our evaporative cooler was on the fritz. Not only that, but my husband, who usually did all the upkeep, had been working long hours and wouldn’t be home until after dark. That meant I would have to try to the repairs. I could see disaster looming.

I called my husband with the wild hope that my sorry story would bring out compassion in his superiors and he would be allowed to come home early. That didn’t happen. Instead, my sweet man told me exactly what to do. I hung up the phone, knowing we were in big trouble.

After a trip to the hardware store, I fumbled around for the necessary tools and got to work, determined to get the temporary fix in place without tragedy. Everything went more or less fine until it came to climbing the ladder to the roof…in the almost one hundred degree heat…with my fear of heights. After a quick pep talk to self I went up, only to discover that gloves were essential. Why didn’t I know that?

Despite several false starts, numerous trips up and down the ladder on shaky legs, and leaks that had to be fixed, I did manage to get the temporary fix in place. The cool air blowing on my heated face was all the thanks I needed. My appreciation for my husband, who does these jobs without whining, blossomed.

I learned a lesson from this that I thought applied in many areas, but especially in my writing. Had I tried to muddle through on my own that cooler would never have been repaired. We would have been sweltering for days without my husband’s knowledgeable input. The same goes with writing. I have to be ready to listen to experts in many areas and willing to apply their advice, even when it’s hard to do. Editors and other writer’s have many suggestions that are gleaned from years of experience and will benefit me if I listen.

Although I prefer to stay within my comfort zone and not climb a ladder to the roof, I can get a different perspective if I’m willing to stretch. Up on that roof, the view stretched out a long ways while my usual vista in the house is very limited. I also learned appreciation for something someone else does. As writer’s we must be ready to get out of our comfort zone in order to add depth and reality to our writing.

So, I challenge you to step out the next time you have the opportunity and try something new—even if the scent of disaster is in the air. You never know what treasures you’ll glean for your writing from that breath of cool air.