A day-by-day history of U2, now in its second edition.

Books, dog ears, and a word count

By on June 23, 2007 in Researching, Writing with 4 Comments

How about a little background into the research and writing process, and then an update on tonight’s mini-milestone? Sound good? Cool.

I continue to re-read every U2-related book on my bookshelf. It’s a long-but-enjoyable process, and has really helped me remember some interesting facts from the old days that had slipped my mind.

I’m doing this in spare time, of course. The day job keeps me quite busy. Some books take about 2 weeks to re-read; others take much longer.

As I re-read each book, I have a colored highlighter with me. When I come to an interesting factoid or quote, two things happen:

  1. I highlight it.
  2. I dog-ear the page for quick access later.

And when I’m done with the re-read, I go back through all the dog-eared pages and compare what I’ve highlighted to what’s already in my manuscript. If there’s some additional information to add, I write it in. Each little bit of info makes the book better, and more complete.

With most of the books I’ve re-read so far, maybe 1/3rd or 1/2 of the pages are dog-eared. Not so with The Rolling Stone Files … that one was probably 2/3rds dog-eared. It’s a testament to the generally great material, especially band interviews, they’ve published over the years. Shame the book only goes up to the Zooropa tour, though. It really needs an update with all their more recent U2 stuff.

Tonight, I’ve just finished adding facts and events from U2 At the End of the World, which came close to the Rolling Stone book in percentage of dog-eared pages. And that’s such a thick book, it took me probably 5-6 weeks to battle through it.

Next up: BP Fallon’s U2 Faraway, So Close. With this and Flanagan’s book, the Zoo era should be well covered. I hope.

Current word count: 118,532 (316 pages in MS Word)

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  1. rihannsu says:

    Ouch, dog eared pages make me shudder. I sure hope you are buying other copies to replace the ones defaced by the dog earing. I’d have to buy extra copies just to highlight and then don’t know if I’d be able to do it. I was taught at such a young age that books are sacred that anything which damages or defaces a book in any way makes me cringe. Even highlighting textbooks for study notes was impossible for me. Made studying a real bitch. When my daughter was about 2 or 3 she marked in some of her childrens books with a pencil and the resulting tirade when I saw it was so impressive that when she first found childrens books in the library that were scribbled in she cames running to me showing me the damage and earnestly ensuring me that “I didn’t do that mommy”. The librarians were impressed at her respect for books but I felt really guilty for so obviously terrifying her over the aspect of book defacing. I also have and enourmous problem with throwing away books. It took me over ten years to throw away my outdated Tax Accounting textbook and then I actually had to have a friend do it and take the trash out quick before I rescued it. I’ve often wanted to compile U2 facts the way you are doing but I am definitely handicapped by my book defacing phobia.

    Good luck with your research.

    Dana

  2. Matt says:

    Hey Dana — for a few fleeting moments, I had the same fears. But in the end, I decided it was just quicker and cheaper to mark up what I have. Life goes on. :-)

    That said, I’m hesitant to mark up U2 by U2, so I may just read that one without marking it up and put any relevant facts straight into the manuscript…..

  3. Andrew says:

    I’m with Dana, there is no way i could ever do that to my U2 books! I was rather shocked that you are doing it, Matt.

  4. Val says:

    You might want to pick up a new product that offers a highlighter pen on one side and small post-its on the other. Its great! I’ve finished my research from U2 by U2, and have the flag post-its sticking out of the pages with another next to the info I want to record.

    I am certainly going to push for my book to be in hardcover as two softcover books I’ve used for research have fallen apart. And, like Dana, I’m very careful with my books.
    Good luck, Matt!

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