Trial & Error: Wood Splinters & Woefully Imprisoned Cats

Random, Writing Advice
What might be one of the most frustrating but also the funniest things about life is that it’s all about trial and error. Yes, you may have that one person that loves to tell you what to do and how to do it, but generally, we have to figure things out for ourselves.
If you are anything like my husband and I, we are young but proud, hate asking for help, money, advice. I think it’s because we both look quite young for our age (lets say that while we’re in our late twenties, we’re still mistaken for teenagers). Yes, you say, that’s a good thing, I’m jealous, whatever. But when you’re trying to be a young professional, it’s hard to make a proper first impression when people only think you’re sixteen. Okay, off on a tangent there. Anyways, we tend to overcompensate by not asking for advice or help unless it’s entirely necessary.
Our first home, a sidesplit on 2 acres in the middle of the boonies, is our pride and joy. It’s not the newest house, not the biggest property (my husband wants to farm one day, so 2 acres is nothing) but it’s better than living in the city all cramped in there with your neighbours. Been there, done that. It was good when I was nine and had a ton of kids to play with, but now that I’m grown and have a child, the country’s where it’s at.

But because it’s our first home, we’ve been learning a lot of things by trial and error. Having a child has been the biggest challenge. We realized the other day that we absolutely need a gate for our deck off the kitchen (the staircase is 5 feet high and not the safest). So we set out to build a gate out of 2x4s and lattus. Yeah, simple, and it looks good. Except for one thing: my husband used a reciprocating saw to cut the excess lattus…… Anyone familiar with this type of saw knows that the heavily serated blade and back and forth motion of the saw spells disaster on such flimsy pieces of wood. He should have used the table saw. Needless to say, our nice beautiful gate is quite splitered in places… but he learned from his mistake and used the tablesaw for the deck lattus skirting.

Another thing: now the cats are imprisoned. Okay, this is a little dramatic. My cats are just lazy. They’ve spent the entire winter lounging around, getting fat, and now that they’re going outside again, they expect to simply trot down the steps and have birds walk into their greedy little paws. With the gate, they’re too fat to squeeze through the rails to get to the stairs, or to jump up onto the railing and take a little dive to the grass. But you know what? My child’s safety is more important than their silver-spoon accessibility. Sorry Tigger and Smudge. Mom’s got the last word.
In adventure trillers especially, I’ve noticed that there is not a lot of trial and error. The protagonist always knows what to do in the moment, what to say. There’s no miscommunication (not unless it’s for a purpose). What I like about life is its funny little incidents that make us feel (dumb) human. We’re not robots that know everything. We’re all learning every day. Some of us have too much pride and don’t like to ask for help. Some don’t have enough pride and mooch advice, time, and money.
I like to read stories that aren’t too contrived. I mean, yes, a book has to be contrived, but there’s a way to make it not seem so. If you want us to feel like you are in a character’s shoes, add in the odd ‘incident’ or miscommunication. Because life is full of this. It brings the story to life, and it no longer seems so rigid. Nobody knows everything, so reading books in which the characters always know exactly the right thing to do bugs me. If you want them to complete the task properly, at least toss in a bit of uncertainty here or there.

And don’t be afraid of making mistakes. At the time it may not seem so funny, but later, you’ll laugh at it (unless you alone caused the stock market to crash or trigger a major earthquake by digging a pond so you can watch your pretty Koi swim swim while you lounge on the deck with a beer). Oh, and don’t be afraid to ask for advice.

2 thoughts on “Trial & Error: Wood Splinters & Woefully Imprisoned Cats

  1. You're right. A child's safety is priority. It looks great. Now you can enjoy sitting on the deck without worrying.. or at least with less worry :). Having a farm would be pretty cool. Imagine the freedom and possibilities! A nice quiet area to write in. If you had a farm with a forest you could go for a nice walk for some inspiration, when needed of course :).

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