Wednesday, June 24, 2009

SC Writers Workshop and Shadetree-ers

South Carolina Writers Workshop:

I recently joined the SC Writers Workshop. It's a great concept with an interesting group of people, but so far I've only been able to attend one meeting. The writers submit their pages (example-a chapter from their current novel or other writing project) in advance, and the group members critique the work and then meet to discuss each submission at length. While in attendance at my first and only meeting, I sat there thinking that if I submit my work, I'll break out into a heavy sweat while they are tearing it apart--line by line! The truth is, however, that it will be beneficial to obtain feedback on the book that I'm currently writing, and when I reach the point where I am ready to allow eyes to see it, those will be the first people to have a glimpse of this little gem that I'm creating.


Driving along Business Highway 17 last week, I spotted a scene that brought back a vivid memory of my dad. I saw a pseudo-garage--more like a canopy where someone had erected an open air automobile repair business. It reminded me that my dad would have called this person a shadetree mechanic, or a shadetree-er as he would often say.

What is a shadetree mechanic? It is someone who works on their own vehicle in their driveway or home garage, someone who is fearless about tackling the maintenance of their own vehicle (whether or not they are truly proficient at this), and someone about whom dealerships and professional mechanics cringe because sometimes they do more damage than repair.

My recollection is that dad was sort of an automobile mechanic snob in a manner of speaking. He felt that people shouldn't be tinkering under the hood of a vehicle unless they were properly trained. Eventually, the auto makers began to design vehicles in such a way (computerized diagnostics) that many shadetree mechanics and do-it-yourselfers threw up their hands in frustration because the mechanical design made it more and more difficult for the average person to manage their own maintenance.

Dad stretched the use of the term to include anyone in any situation who was claiming to be an "expert" in any field in which they were not officially educated. For instance, if an individual was not a licensed barber or hairdresser and he or she cut the hair of relatives in his or her home, dad would refer to them as a shadetree barber or hairdresser. The example that stands out most in my mind was when he heard someone giving their interpretation of Bible passages and they were either 1) not an ordained minister or 2) he didn't happen to agree with them, then they were a shadetree theologian.

I think Dad would have been a good minister in some respects. He knew the Bible inside out and loved studying and teaching it. I don't, however, think that he would have had the patience to schmooze the occasional congregation members who tend to be chronic complainers, gossips, and instigators. He wouldn't have been able to resist the urge to tell them exactly what he was thinking! One time my husband, Fred, asked Dad why he wasn't a minister, as it was apparent that he loved talking about the Lord. He replied, "I never got the calling."

We all need to think about using the gifts and talents that we've been given in ways that glorify God. He may never call us to travel the world or be a nationally known anything, but we can touch lives every day in our own little spheres of influence and allow His light and goodness to shine through us.

For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6 (NIV)

Hoping that you're having a blessed week!!

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