Thursday, January 18, 2007
As current President of the National Associa-tion of Home Workshop Writers, I can’t help but reflect on the positive role how-to writers play in modern life. This was written as a letter to our members.
It seems that life in the 21st century is a busy one. There are so many choices of entertainment and distraction that it is hard to get any work done. And of course there is the Internet, a powerful tool that provides a sense that the whole world is right at our fingertips. But when we go off line, the same drippy faucet is dripping its drip, the deck is in dire need of refinishing, and there are countless other things that need fixing or making or are just about to break.
Do you ever feel like the DVD of your own life is spinning in its slot, the drive is on fast forward and your own remote is in the hands of others? Let’s push the pause button for just a few moments and reflect on our own small community of writers.
There are great writers that we all know and love who have the power to whisp us away through time and space, distracting us from concerns, and placing our consciousness outside our own bodies, into the lives of created characters far removed from the real situations of our own lives. Those are the writers that get the big bucks…the ones who entertain and distract. Their words carry us into feeling states from which we ultimately awaken to lives unchanged.
How-to writers are a bit different. We write about small things that empower others to cope, to fix, and to make. We inspire readers to get up, put down their remotes, head for their basements and garages with eyes and hands directed toward improvement, change, betterment and growth. So let’s reflect on our power and direct it with some shared vision.
Can you imagine what visitors to a museum would think if they had never had a chance to make anything? Would they look at the real Mona Lisa and marvel at brush strokes made by the human hand? If they’ve never held a brush, have only engaged the world through a mouse and keyboard, will they have the power in their own souls to connect with the vast human legacy that only clicks-in when there is texture, the warmth of the human touch, and a sense of one’s own power to create?
So, there are a couple things to go over before we push play.
The first is that we as a small community of how-to writers must come to an understanding of the powers that lay in our own hands. We, more than most, know the wonders of our own creativity. We, more than most know the forces and means inherent in the human soul to improve the reality of the day to day and the here and now. Let’s acknowledge the incredible value of who we are and what we really do. We empower. In the face of a consumer culture with the masses driven to consume, WE inform and instruct: how-to, why-to, encouraging others to build and make better. Perhaps some of us may feel enticed by the unrelenting forces of fantasy and distraction to write the great novel instead, but perhaps we should remember there is no more important calling for today’s age than that of the how-to writer.
The second thing to consider while we are still on pause is the strength we are can give to the future. Knowing the importance of our own hands, the feelings invoked in our own hearts by our creative efforts, let’s stand resolute in our support for hands-on education in all our nations schools and for all our nations children. Let’s think of ways to expand what we have started. With the help of Vaughan and Bushnell Manufacturing we started a tools for schools program. How about tools in ALL schools? Can we do more to spread the hands-on education resolution? Let’s consider new things, too! Let’s put our collective wisdom and power to work.
OK, push the play button. On with the show!
The photo above is of my two "Golden Hammer" first place awards for how-to writing, awarded by the National Association of Home Workshop Writers. Information on this year's writing competition can be found on our website nahww.org.