Monday, December 05, 2011

wherewithal...

I have been a longtime member of the National Association of Home Workshop Writers and had served for a term as VP and then as President. I continue to serve as a member of the board. We are currently opening up a membership drive to recruit new members interested in professional level writing for the do it yourself market. I will have more information to share in the blog at a later date.

We all know that the loss of shop classes in American schools was a truly dumb idea, and those of us who write about DIY know that far better than most. Children have been introduced to technologies that make things easy for them and offer little encouragement toward development of the wherewithal to do difficult and challenging things. That's something we need to fix. As writers, it affects our industry.

Also, because DIY writing involves the hands and direct teaching of practical things, it is placed on a lower intellectual and social hierarchy than fiction and other non-fiction materials. Start an organization to promote fiction and you'll have zillions of members overnight. But write about subjects based on real experience that others can replicate in their own hands and the market shrivels in today's world where "ease of use" matters so much to everyone and children are seldom asked to do difficult things. So successful how-to writing that encourages readers to read and become engaged in making real things and to discover their own wherewithal to take on real challenges in the real world requires how-to writers to stick together and encourage each other in our work.

I was at Lux weaving studio yesterday selling my small boxes and working on a letter to promote the Eureka Springs School of the Arts. A man came in looking for a plumber. He's a skilled software engineer recently retired to a grand historic home in Eureka Springs who had never applied his hands to anything beyond the keyboard, and as he worried about how to find a plumber on a Sunday in Eureka Springs, I offered the use of my wrenches... along with the suggestion that he take time to discover the pleasure of knowing how to do something himself. He listened to my encouragement, but I could see it didn't stick. It is extremely difficult to awaken a person to their own capacities. It was obvious that he came from a social strata in which gentlemen did not do plumbing. I tried to tell him that having the wherewithal to fix things on your own time, without dependence on others is an ennobling and fulfilling endeavor. Can you imagine sitting around wringing your hands on a Sunday afternoon rather than choosing to take matters in your own hands and discover your own physical and intellectual power?

wherewithal is a very good thing.

Make, fix and create...

3 comments:

Tim Holton said...

Hi, Doug

fyi, the hyperlink in your second paragraph is dead.

Good post otherwise!

Jim Dillon said...

As I tell my sons at every opportunity:

Helplessness is NOT sexy.

Doug Stowe said...

Jim, good point. For boys or for girls either.