Dateline: 21 June 2013
When I was 16 years old I bought myself a copy of The Mother Earth News Almanac. I had never heard of The Mother Earth News but the book caught my eye in a bookstore, and as I flipped through the pages, I was enthralled with all the down-to-earth information and ideas. That book resonated with me in a very profound way. It still does. It prompted me to subscribe to The Mother Earth News magazine, which was a life-changing experience.
I learned a lot of things from the old Mother Earth News magazines. One thing I learned is how to write how-to articles. In fact, one of the old articles in that magazine was titled, "How to Write For Mother." I still think it is one of the best things I have ever read on the subject of writing a good how-to essay or article.
John Shuttleworth, the man who started Mother Earth News, was, in my opinion, a master when it came to communicating with the written word. He didn't win a Pulitzer and his name isn't considered with the great authors of history, but, I'm telling you, he knew how to engage readers. The following excerpt comes from an old issue of Mother Earth News and served to introduce readers to the then-new Mother Earth News Almanac (published back in 1973)...
The crew that puts together LIFESTYLE! and THE MOTHER EARTH NEWS was given a special holiday present last fall: In addition to its usual average of about 56 hours of work a week, it was presented with the chore of nailing together (in its spare time) a 384-page paperback book for Bantam.
September, October, November, December and the first few days of January—in other words—were pretty brutal for some of the folks around here . . . and I'm afraid they didn't have much of a Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year's celebration at all.
Why did they do it . . . why did nearly a dozen individuals work themselves (for very little more than minimum wage) until they were so exhausted that—at one time or another—they all actually became physically sick? Because they're damn good people who want to get THE MOTHER EARTH NEWS Research Center built for the (we hope) subsequent benefit of the planet and all of us. They knew that, by putting together a book that Bantam could mass-market, they'd be helping to spread MOTHER EARTH NEW's word just a little further and—if all goes well—putting a few more dollars into the Research Center fund. I'm dang proud of 'em all.
And the book? Oh yes, the book. It's called THE MOTHER EARTH NEWS ALMANAC and it's packed with tables and formulas and recipes and tips and hints and weather lore and wild food ideas and organic gardening information and land-finding methods and recycling projects and alternative power concepts and all kinds of things. A few (actually a very, very few) of the book's subjects are shown on these two pages just to give you the tiniest idea of the wealth of knowledge crammed into the paperback . . . all written and illustrated just for the book.
Look for THE MOTHER EARTH NEWS ALMANAC wherever paperbacks are sold . . . or order out a copy direct from MOTHER EARTH NEW's bookshelf. The money, as they say, is going for a good cause . . . and I betcha you'll like the book too!
I am prompted to tell you about The Mother Earth News Almanac today because my newest book, The Planet Whizbang Idea Book For Gardeners, is starting to get a few comments and reviews (favorable ones, for which I am thankful) and the following comment was posted at the new book's "hidden" online Resources web site:
"The book is great! It reminds me of the old Mother Earth News Almanac, but very focused."
That little bit of feedback is high-praise, indeed, and it made my day to read it.
For those of you who have not seen The Mother Earth News Almanac, you can find old copies for sale at a reasonable price on the internet. It is a remarkable book. Though it is now 40 years old, and some of the information is dated, it is still well worth getting a copy if you want a good dose of down-to-earth inspiration.