Music Since 1989 – end of year progress report

I suppose it’s inevitable when you’re writing a book; with so many people you see their first question is ‘So … how’s the book going?’ It’s a bit like being pregnant, except without the heavy lifting and slightly less of the nervousness. In pregnancy’s favour, however, you’re generally pretty sure that the baby is growing, healthily and inevitably. With a book it’s not always so easy to confidently answer ‘So, how’s it going?’ with ‘Getting closer all the time’.

Anyway, for those that might be interested here’s a progress report on the last year or so, just before we enter the final nine months of writing and the calendar year in which the book will be completed.

So … how’s it going?

Overall, pretty well I think. I’m not where I’d like to be wordcount-wise (but are you ever?), but I do like how it’s coming together, and I’m thrilled at a) the robustness of my original plan as it has met the various hurdles of the writing process and b) how neatly some of this is starting to shape up. The end-to-end trajectory isn’t all in place yet, and I’ve not worked out how all the throughlines should be arranged, but as a compositional project it’s really working out well. I think, anyway. Still a long way to go.

The biggest challenge so far has been balancing the depth and breadth of coverage. This is still being worked out in some places, but it is getting there. Whenever people ask me about this, I give them the metaphor of a forest: if the new music world is like a forest I want to take people right up to its edges, to show them its full dimensions, its different landscapes; what I don’t want to do is show them lots of similar (but in themselves interesting) trees all growing in roughly the same place. At the moment, I’ve still got too many trees with not enough space between them; but the chainsaw is at hand if need be. And then, of course, somebody points me to a whole new species growing right over there, on the other side of that stream …

Of the eight chapters, five are about 75% written in some sort of early draft. That looks a lot better written down than it feels in my head. In the new year, when things get a little more complete, I’ll be looking for a couple of sympathetic readers to point out any massive gaps you idiot/stroke my ego and tell me I’m amazing.

Anticipated schedule for those who like to know these things: Manuscript delivered August 2015. Book on shelves I think September 2016.


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