The Writing of the Harper Book – Roy Harper: Every Album, Every Song (On Track)
Five years ago I had this idea of writing a book about myself and Roy and our fifty-year friendship. It was quite fun. I wrote it as a stream of conscious in one long splurge. As I completed each section I sent them off to a friend who I had shared a good deal of my life with. He loved it and kept urging me to do more. Day after day I’d produce another episode.
When I finally reached the end I had accumulated quite a lengthy piece of writing, the subject of which was Roy’s and my life in parallel.
I was feeling a little euphoric.
I foolishly shared the raw document with Roy instead of working on it. He did not like the writing at all but said that he thought there was a good book in there.
I went back to tidy it up and address the writing in the hopes of making it more readable.
Because I had written it as a stream of consciousness it was full of energy but very dense and verbose. The sentences were long. It gushed rather than flowed. I spent a lot of time rewriting it to make it more accessible and tidy the language up. Then I shared it with a few friends. Half loved it; half thought it was terrible.
I had another rethink. I could either go with the original that neither Roy nor Liz rated at all, or I could radically change the writing style. I worked with Liz and radically altered the style. What emerged was a new book altogether.
Having just finished the first draft of this reworking someone pointed out that Sonicbond publishers were looking for writers. On the spur of the moment I sent off a letter with an extract. Stephen, the editor, liked the writing but told me he was looking for a writer to produce a book on Roy for his On Track series. He offered me a contract.
That sounded interesting. I was familiar with all the songs Roy had produced and not only was a friend but also a great fan. I thought that a celebration of Roy’s brilliant work would be fun.
That is how I came to write Roy Harper On Track.
Little did I realise when I made that decision precisely how much work would be involved and how much time I would have to devote to it. It is one thing listening to the music and loving it, and quite another writing about it. Fortunately I knew enough and had sufficient personal experience through my association with Roy’s career to enable me to complete the project. I had a great time listening to all the music and revisiting past memories, digging out the information and reminiscing. Age gives perspective. Reliving the past can be invigorating and provides insight. Hindsight is educative.
What stood out to me was what a consistently spectacular body of work Roy has produced over the years and how many missed opportunities there were. What could, and should have been.
That fifty plus years of extraordinary creativity is the fruit of an equally extraordinary life.
The book was a celebration of Roy and his anticareer.
Now that the book is published I am turning my attention back to the original book!