It seems crazy when I say it out loud (so to speak), but a great deal of my first book was written off the top of my head.
I suppose it could be seen more like “stream of consciousness” writing: type out the thought without worrying about punctuation or narrative flow; then go back and turn those thoughts into coherent sentences and paragraphs. Since the book was essentially autobiographical, it didn’t take much to get thoughts where I wanted them.
I conducted a couple of dozen interviews for the book, as well. The interviews were recorded, with key points jotted into one of a couple of reporter’s notebooks I bought for the occasion. All things being equal, the process was relatively simple.
The Bernie Worrell story, on the other hand, is different.
My knowledge of Bernie and his musical contributions are, at best, passing. That is to say, I know who Bernie was and some of what he played, but my education is rudimentary. I don’t know enough for stream of consciousness writing. I need a different approach.
All in all, I’ll conduct nearly twice as many interviews this time. I’m scouring the Internet for any and all interviews Bernie conducted before his passing. I’m listening to as much of his music as I can and making notes about what I hear. I’m collecting material from Bernie’s widow Judie, and a few superfans who have offered to help out.
One thing is certain: all this information will NOT fit into a couple of reporter’s notebooks. I have to go next level.
So I bought a printer, which allows me to download any relevant articles or interviews, along with collecting the best “soundbites” from my chats, which I typed up and printed so I don’t have to work my way through my recordings more than once or twice. All of this information is being compiled, three-hole punched, and placed into what I have dubbed The Big Binder of Bernie.
If anything, I get a decent grade for my organizational skills.
But simply placing the items in the binder is not enough. I’ve come up with a table of contents, which makes it MUCH easier to figure just where my narrative is going. I have 13 chapters to write. As I go through my notes, I can assign each one needed to the appropriate chapter. This is a lot more reliable than my memory.
I have more than a few binders on my shelves. I couldn’t find my label maker, so the most logical thing to do was put a picture of Bernie on the binder’s front, making it easy to find. I like this photo of the man. When I look at it, I can hear Bernie saying (very kindly), “It’s time to get to work. And make sure you do right by me.”
I will, Bernie. I promise.
You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (cirdecsongs) My book, I Can’t Be the Only One Hearing This: A Lifetime of Music Through Eclectic Ears, is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine book dealers.