I’ve been working like crazy on the book, have been for a couple months. It’s a little manic.
Mostly it’s wrangling the research and trying to bring a bit of order to chaos, find a form I can access and pull it all into whatever is going to become The Book.
In particular, the interviews are my greatest source of information and also the biggest challenge. I’ve spent hours every day listening to the audio of the conversations while reading against the transcripts. Making corrections. Noting stories I want to extract. Reacquainting myself with the experience of the interviews themselves.
I’m amazed at how much I’d forgotten, especially (perhaps obviously) the interviews from 12 and 15 years ago. I went through a phase where that passing of time, the distance, seemed to be a drawback, but now it’s key. Interviews with multiple generations of tenors, other singers, composers, give a through-line to the overall story. I’m still not sure how it will all work out, exactly, but then, that’s the process.
Aside from the reminder that one makes progress by sitting down and doing the work on a regular basis, even (or especially) when it’s not continually thrilling. You know, like a roller coaster. Lots of quiet successes show up, little ah-ha moments that I may have missed while in the real-time moment of the conversation.
These might be connections to someone else’s comment on the same topic. Maybe something I say prompts a reflection or revelation from the person on the other side of the microphone.
I’m discovering how much more I remember of the interview and how I relate to it depends on adding a sensory element. Sounds of voices, background noise from coffee machines or clattering plates or traffic. Excitement in the voices, or hesitation, regret, anger, gratitude, laughter.
As accurate as the transcripts are, with filler words – ums and you-knows – and false starts, reading them only connects me to my memory of the interview. What I’ve held onto from when it happened to listening again might have been overall joyous and positive or kind of a shrug-it-off-we-didn’t-connect-much, but hearing it now often proves me wrong.
Background noise helps me recall the setting which then reminds me of the smells, sometimes the colors, certainly the circumstances of meeting this person. Have we never met before? Is he someone I worked with? Are either or both of us tired or stressed? Emotional distance from the adrenalin-high of the interview turns out to be a crucial factor in finding my way through all the words to the stories.
So this is all progress. Not press-release worthy, just the everyday bookwork. Rather irritated that I have a trip to the US booked next week. I scheduled it a while back, needing to cram a dozen tasks and meetings into a short visit, handling wrapping-up details from many years living in one place. But I hate interrupting this bookwork momentum. Grrr.