When DIY Shouldn’t Be



It’s spring, and based on all the Home Depot commercials, it’s time for all things DIY. While I do think it’s awesome to plan a project, execute it, and then revel in what your hands have done, I also think there are times when you should bring in the professionals.

Recently, I’ve had trouble with lights in my house. The flickering turned into a short, and one short into two. Since I know next to nothing about working with electricity, it is abundantly amazing that my brother-in-law is an electrician.

He stopped by the other night and quickly found the root course of my problem: frayed and blackened wires in the recessed light in one of bathrooms, which I had thought I’d fixed. Great, problem solved. No, not yet. He then checked the recessed lights in my other bathroom. Not as bad, but getting there. I hadn’t touched them yet. Therefore, yesterday he spent hours replacing all four lights because…I’ve been using the wrong type of light bulb, and in essence was melting the wires. My “fix” only hastened the issue.

I felt like an idiot. However, this isn’t a first for me. Countless times I’ve tried and failed at projects, only to need my father’s or brother-in-law’s assistance in the end. Which is why there are so many little things not quite right in my house (my non-working doorbell for instance), because I can only beg for help so many times without it completely eroding the father/provider portion of my ego. Which I know is a dumb notion, but what can I do?

Blame HGTV, of course. They make it all look so easy.

In reality, I have to look at it in terms I know. Even with writing, there is only so much I can do on my own. Yes, I am a professional writer, but that doesn’t mean I get things right the first, second, or even third time around. Fortunately, I have an agent who lets me know early on where all my missteps are. Later, I have an editor who does the same, for all the issues I’ve created even after cleaning up the first ones.

I can’t do all the marketing and publicity, either. I rely on my publisher, my filmmaker, and all the people on social media. When it comes down to it, I’m good at ideas, at bringing them to life, at making them work. But making them pretty and then making them known, I need all the help I can get.

And I’m okay with this. Even as much as I’m not. It’s embarrassing to think I could have burned down my house because of light bulbs and my ineptitude. It would be demoralizing to put out a rough draft of any of my novels before the treatments they receive. Fortunately, I’m getting comfortable with my strengths and weaknesses and realizing that I will always have some of both. The task now is to embrace, to keep the professionals happy by not destroying things too much, and having the sense to know early on when I’m in over my head.

So here’s to spring and to projects, be them household or writing. If you stop by, however, understand that my next novel will most likely be underway before I ever get to that doorbell.

Knock hard.

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