Today’s Chicken or Egg Question

Dear Readers:
What a wonderful time to be alive. New ideas, innovations, and discoveries bombard us daily. I learned last Friday the distinguishing characteristics of an asteroid, a meteor, meteoroid, and meteorite. All the years I’ve walked this planet I’ve been unaware of the definition of these heavenly bodies that could drastically affect our daily lives.

Another new idea, this one in the social science arena, caught my attention this week: the Ikea Effect. It’s named after the Scandinavian store that sells semi-assembled furniture, most which require the purchaser to commit to “minor assembly required” in order to actually use the purchased item.

The phenomenon, now being studied by university types whose area of research involves marketing, investigates which comes first:

  • Does laboring at something lead to loving it?


  • Does loving something lead to laboring over it? 

The findings of this research indicate we humans attach greater value to something we build ourself than if some other little elf assembled it and we just have to buy and use it. You see this chair, desk, or bed on the Ikea showroom floor, purchase it in a box (complete with assembly instructions), lug it home, put it together, and are rewarded with a sense of accomplishment and competence because you built it. It doesn’t matter that it may be wobbly or crooked. Because you labored over it you love it, even to the point of rejecting criticism from more realistic people around you who point out its defects.

There’s a similarity here: a writer, like myself, who has grown to love a work due to the long hours spent writing it, sends off this “finished” final draft to agents, hoping to convince someone to agree to pitch it to publishers. The reviews and criticisms that come back are in danger of being rejected by this author because I may be blinded to the work’s defects, being so enamored with the cherished assemblage of ideas, words, paragraphs, pages, and chapters. As I begin yet another pass through my debut novel, I hope to retain my objectivity and receptiveness to outside ideas for change. Only time will tell. The plot thickens.

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