As I’ve been putting the finishing touches on my article for Issue Twelve, I found myself struggling to put certain details into words. So today, I set up my computer at the workbench to put myself next to the work I was trying to describe. It’s amazing how much standing at the bench snaps so much into clarity.
Writing in the abstract is a tricky thing because we can be off in our own little worlds in our heads, and we’re never brought to ask whether our ideas comport with reality. A lot of weird stuff comes out of that kind of exploration, but most woodworkers I know can smell that airy-fairy bunk a mile away. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. I like that about woodworkers.
So, I’m convinced that not only does my writing need to be grounded at the bench, but so does my reader’s reading. I’m afraid that if folks don’t pick up the tools to try this stuff themselves, they’ll believe anything. It always surprises me when I see forum questions from people asking if a certain technique works or not. My first thought is, “Have you tried it?” There is so much more to learn out there by trying than there is asking.
And this is one of the reasons Mortise & Tenon is not a step-by-step publication. Our project articles are more like narratives than they are “Now insert tab C into slot D” because we want to cultivate personal discovery. Finding the balance between providing enough information for the curious to do and telling an engaging story that inspires everyone else to want to do is challenging. But that’s what I’m shooting for each time.
I write for readers who would rather try to build an armchair than plop down in one.