Thursday, November 14, 2013

Guest Post - Paul Stutzman Author of The Wanderers

I’ll shut up and listen

Amish novels have become quite popular with the reading public. Most writers of those novels are women. Why would a man even attempt to enter this crowded field? Either he doesn’t know his limits or he chooses to believe there are no limits. Perhaps in this instance ignorance really is bliss.

The impetus for my sticking a toe in the water....or, rather, my foot … okay, I actually jumped into the literary pool with fear and trembling because I believed I had something to offer from my male perspective.

My perspective has been shaped by being born into an Amish home and raised in a strict Conservative environment where the man is in charge. As an adult, I spent 25 years working in food service with a workforce that was 90% female. Throughout the years, I observed and interacted with these workers and reached my own conclusions on the feminine world. I now believe women really are in charge and are just letting us men think we are in charge to protect our fragile egos.

Early in my career I was a fixer—that’s what we men do. If something is broken, we fix it. Initially, that was my approach to any issue or problem an employee encountered. I still believe that’s a god approach (within reason), but it can quickly get one—a man—in trouble. Many women just want to be heard. Is that so hard? After many frustrating encounters I finally realized the magic of not only hearing but also listening. And the really good part was that I didn't have to fix anything. Just listen. I could hardly believe it was really that easy.

Over the years, I came to respect and admire the many talented ladies I hired, and I saw them as equals in the workforce. In the Amish community, women, although deeply respected by their counterparts, are relegated to the back seat during most decision-making. In my book The Wanderers, I chose to give the ladies equal or perhaps top billing. I took many life lessons learned during my restaurant career and incorporated them into my stories.

I also wanted to write a book that wove together enough adventure to entice male readers and enough emotion to keep ladies involved. The jury is still out on whether I succeeded. I promise to be quiet and listen while you give me the verdict.

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