RUSH Drummer Checks In

RUSH drummer Neil Peart has posted a lengthy update on his official web site. An excerpt follows:

"As I have been writing to my friends over the past few weeks, 'Sorry I haven't been writing — I've been too busy writing.'

"The first big job I had to do was the essay I always write to accompany the release of a new RUSH album. It might seem fairly easy to put together a few pages about a piece of work like that, but I find it to be the hardest kind of writing — except for lyrics, it occurs to me now. For similar reasons, too, because I'm trying to use the fewest words possible to convey the greatest amount of information. Lyrics are the most difficult, yet have the fewest words — maybe two hundred — and the next hardest are short prose pieces, a couple thousand words or so, because they carry a heavy load.

"Somehow short pieces for other people's books, like the introduction to Kevin Anderson's story collection, 'Landscapes', or the afterword for a new edition of Lesley Choyce's 'The Republic of Nothing', weren't as difficult. Perhaps that's because they were about other people's work, and the 'audience' is clearly limited to readers of those books. For the album-introduction essays, the intended audience ranges from industry people to journalists, and from casual readers to ardent fans. The story will be sent out with the new CD, at least on the label's Web site, and the band's, and will sometimes be quoted in the press and on radio and TV, then be printed (finally) in the tour book. That scattershot target affects the kind of story I try to present, and the way I try to present it.

"Thinking of the essay I wrote for 'Vapor Trails', 'Behind the Fire', the one for the 'Rush in Rio' DVD, 'Flying Blind in Rio', and even the introduction for the tourbook anthology, 'Works on Paper', each of those short pieces took about two solid weeks of hard work. In that same amount of time, instead of a three- or four-page essay, I might turn out forty pages of a book, or even two or three songs.

"For those most recent three RUSH essays, I even called upon the expertise of my book editor, Paul McCarthy. Paul has an insightful sense of 'the reader's experience,' and helps me with the chronology, clarity, and completeness of the story he feels I am trying to tell. After I've worked at the first draft for several days, I send it to Paul, and he responds with reams of commentary and suggestions. I have described Paul's editorial method before as 'critical enthusiasm' — first telling me how much he likes what I've done, then suggesting all the ways I could make it better. I nearly always see what Paul is aiming for (or aiming me for), and try to make those changes. I keep chipping away at the story, word by word and paragraph by paragraph, trying to make it all flow as well as I can."

Read the rest of Neil's message at this location.

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