When you write a book, people criticize you.
I’m OK with that. After 21 years in the writing business I can take a sledgehammer blow to my bathing suit area every so often.
But today was a good day.
Why? Carl Bilderback gave me a call to discuss “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest.” If you have followed my blog for the last seven years, then you know that Carl and I go back even further than this blog. In fact, he first called me when I was a young cub at Popular Woodworking to set me straight on some issues of Norris handplane adjusters vs. Bailey adjusters.
And I have never forgotten his lesson.
For those of you who don’t know him, Carl is an extraordinary man. He’s a semi-retired carpenter with immense hand and machine skills. He has an impressive tool collection of planes and saws. He’s an officer of the Mid-West Tool Collectors Assn. He has the voice of an angel. And he is deeply – deeply – passionate about the craft.
But most of all, Carl is equal parts generous and honest. On the generous part: Though he is a tool collector, he probably has given away more tools than he has collected. If you like frame saws, he will send you some frame saws. Etc. etc.
On the honest part: When I’ve messed up in print or on the blog, Carl is always the first to tell me. He is blunt and to the point. The world needs about 300 million more people like him, with his enormous body of knowledge, his even more enormous heart and his willingness to share everything.
So Carl called today. And he had finished reading “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest.” He’s an accomplished editor (ask Megan) and had noted every typo, grammar and factual error in the 480 pages. After he detailed all those errors (which we are cleaning up for the second printing) I felt small and stupid.
But then he said something that I will carry to my grave.
“It is the best thing you have ever written,” he said. “There are things in there that I would want to try if I were 10 years younger.”
I almost burst into tears. After that conversation, I don’t care if The New York Times reviews this book. If Carl says it’s OK, then dammit (sorry for the language!), it’s not a piece of crap.
– Christopher Schwarz