Roy Underhill on the Bookstand
Perhaps the bookstand article called for more matter and less art. My director once joked about my PBS efforts as being a “woodworking show – and less!” And it’s true – I tend to overbalance the “what and how” with a lot of “who and why.”
In this case, I began the Roubo bookstand article with a lot more step-by-step, but as I progressed, I found myself asking “Who am I to rewrite Roubo? Who am I to stand between his instructions and the reader?” The more I wrote, the more concerned I became that I would be stealing the reader’s fun if I did much more than provide a clear translation of Roubo’s words. If he thought his words and drawings were enough, then who am I to say the modern reader needs more?
Of course, if I did not have what I thought was a good story to tell, you can be sure the entire article would have been a how-to in great detail! The coincidence of the bookstand being in the famous painting of what was perhaps Roubo’s last working day seemed a worthy hook for a brief biography. I knew it was a risk, and without the bold support of Chris and Megan, I would never have tried it. True, it’s not something you would usually expect in a how-to magazine, but thank goodness for that!
I hope you’ll have fun making the bookstand – and that you’ll find some extra enjoyment in retelling the story that goes with it!
— Roy Underhill