About 11 p.m. Christmas Eve, I wrote the final paragraph of “Campaign Furniture” and closed the laptop. Megan Fitzpatrick is editing the text now, and I’m finishing up some hand drawings, photography and scanning to complete the book.
I’ll start designing the pages on Jan. 1, and the finished product should ship to customers in March 2014.
I don’t know if I’m like other writers, but I have about zero point zero confidence about my books when they’re complete. My personal criticisms of my work are worse – way worse, actually – than anything spouted on the forums or lobbed into my inbox.
If I could stop myself from writing, I probably would. Unfortunately, writing and publishing is a compulsion, much like woodworking is a compulsion for me and many of my friends. So here is my pre-publication critique of my book: It’s too short, too shallow and not really funny.
1. Too short. This book clocks in at about 50,000 words. That’s about half the length of “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest.” I did everything I could to condense my thoughts and control my asides for “Campaign Furniture.” A lot of the information in “Campaign Furniture” is visual. There are hundreds of photos, drawings and scans of historical material.
My urge was to write an opus. I certainly have the material to do that. But I don’t have time to read an opus, and I know that many readers have lives that are as crazy busy as mine.
2. Too shallow. Here’s a confession: While I admire academic books and use them in my research, I do not enjoy reading them for fun. I am not an academic. I don’t write like one, I don’t think like one and I could never be one.
So while this book will have an index, a bibliography and some deep appendices, it is not going to impress a librarian or end up quoted in someone’s master’s thesis. The goal of “Campaign Furniture” is to introduce you to the style and – I hope – get you interested in building these pieces.
Campaign furniture, as you will see, is made with top-shelf joinery, beautiful woods and its only real adornment is brasses, which also reinforce the joinery. It is an under-appreciated style, and so much fun to build.
3. Not funny. I think good writing balances information and entertainment. But after writing several chapters in the same frame of mind as “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” I ended up rewriting them because the tone just seemed wrong. I find it weird to make jokes about the Napoleonic Wars, colonialism or severe urban overcrowding – all of which are part of the story of campaign furniture.
Some of the darkest and wrongest humor ended up on the cutting room floor. Here’s one bit that got cut. It’s too funny and sick and wrong not to share.
Attention, if you are easily offended, stop reading.
Sir Pratnap Singh, the Maharaja of Idar, was intent on wiping out the Muslim population of India. When an English official pointed out that they shared some Muslim friends, Pratnap replied: “Yes, I liking them too, but very much liking them dead.”
I know. It’s horrible on so many levels.
Despite my self-loathing, I do hope you’ll read the book and join me in researching and building in this fascinating style. I can already think of three more books about the campaign style that need to be written, and I hope this book sparks enough interest for me to continue my work.
— Christopher Schwarz