Defending My Work
I recently came to an unexpected conclusion about being an engineer. I spend 20% of my time creating, 50% documenting and 30% defending my work. Why do I need so much defense? Many people need to be convinced that my designs are necessary, assembled correctly, tested correctly, and function as per the specification. The result is that I spend a lot of time convincing people that everything is fine. In reality, I am defending my work.
I wish everybody would assume that I know what I am doing, so I would not need to defend anything. However, it is human nature to question the surroundings, and the work environment encourages competition. In addition, humans have flaws, pride, and are resistant to change.
Let me provide my worst-case defense example. Ten years ago, my boss tasked me with designing an elaborate motor controller. He wanted me to copy an existing design and add additional features.
I started the design without motor specification, which meant success would not be possible because I did not know what my design needed to do. To make matters worse, I learned that the “working design” had never been built. Against my boss's wishes, I made a more conventional controller, leaving me without an excuse if the design did not work.
The prototype had enormous problems, and my boss forced me to finish the final design before the prototype worked. My boss insisted I use parts that I knew had thermal issues. To add another obstacle, I used a part that did not work correctly for unknown reasons.
During this time, I felt like a boxer because every conversation had a clear winner, loser, and injuries. I lost the fight and got laid off.
I have found that writing follows a similar pattern, but the percentages are different. I spend 10% of my time writing, 60% editing, 20% promoting [I am doing that right now], and 10% defending. What am I defending? To be noticed, a book must contain a hook to get the reader’s attention. Often, this element is controversial. Unfortunately, writing a controversial scene results in a few people getting offended. Therefore, I must defend my work by refuting claims that my work is immoral, has a poorly conceived plot, and is not worth reading. I also edit down the offending topics to give them a more universal appeal.
My first book contained two graphical torture scenes. My second book revolves around an underage relationship, and my third book puts three nations against each other.
The most pushback I received came from my unpublished second book. I directed my defense towards editors and one of three people who have read a rough draft. They complained that I had a cliché plot, despicable relationship, and basic writing errors. Their primary concern is the underaged relationship. Do such relationships actually occur? Of course, but the readers missed the point of the story. I intended to show two people overcoming adversity.
Why did I choose this particular controversy? I could have taken the plot in all kinds of directions. But I made a choice, and I now have to defend this choice. Why do I need so much defense for a work that has not been published? My works are not popular enough to stand on their own. I wish I could yell out, “In a fictional character, the age an invented number. Everything is fine.” Unfortunately, my meager fame is not powerful enough to overcome any criticism.
At my core, I am a stubborn survivor. I decided to go down the path of being an amateur author. I knew there would be critics, and I would have to defend myself. What is my reward? Occasionally people compliment my work. But I get the most satisfaction when I read my own stories and immerse myself in the characters. When they succeed, I succeed.
You’re the best -Bill
October 14, 2020
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