The following is not a petition for affirmation. It is merely a reminder to myself not to order so many books at press time.
Though I loved journalism school, it didn’t love me. During my first two years, both my academic adviser and news writing instructor recommended I transfer to a school that was better suited to my odd writing style.
“You are like a big puppy that pees on the rug all the time,” said David Nelson, my newswriting instructor. “I don’t know what to do with you.”
The vice principal at my high school would have agreed with Nelson.
“You have got to stop wearing that bathrobe to school,” he told me one spring day.
So today I am officially tempering my enthusiasm for my next book, “Furniture of Necessity.” I have about half the projects built for the book, and they are slowly being integrated into our daily lives on Greenbriar Avenue.
Three-legged backstools sit at the ends of our dining table, and I steer every guest in our house to sit on them (we’re up to about 20 pair of buttocks now). Some visitors are clearly fearful that it is a trick.
My first 14th-century trestle table has become a portable work table and has been out in the yard, in the sunroom and set up in the living room for a number of dinners. But a couple visitors have asked why the table is missing legs. Or why it has too many legs. Or they have just asked what the heck it is.
I love these pieces, perhaps more than any other pieces I’ve built in recent memory. But the outside world isn’t sure. The three-legged chairs and table trestles are particularly off-putting. As one woodworker recently told me: “It looks like you’re just trying to save a little wood by having one less leg.”
I seek out and appreciate this sort of honest response. It shapes the way I will explain these pieces in the book and, more importantly, tells me I need to show you more examples here on the blog. The problem is that in the last five years I have looked at hundreds of images of aumbries, trestle tables, backstools, medieval worktables and staked pieces of all sorts. They don’t look weird to me anymore.
But deep down, I know they’re difficult pieces. Just like I knew it was strange to write about stabbings at adult bookstores (suggested headline: “Ouch! Wrong Hole!”). Plus, terrycloth bathrobes are odd attire at high school pep rallies.
So write a birdhouse book, you idiot.
— Christopher Schwarz