Did I ever plan on writing a memoir about U2?

No, I never had any intention of writing about my U2 fandom. You’d think I would because the band has been an integral part of my musical interest for a good sum of my life and I do have some interesting stories to tell about them. However, I wanted to keep those tales to myself and only share them with my close friends. They’re part of my intimacy. The idea to write the book was spurned in 2005 at lunch table conversation but I blew it off. I knew how much work went into writing a book because my parents wrote many critical works in their field of expertise, English literature. And that is where the rub lies in me taking up the family passion.

My mom and stepfather were English professors and if you asked me as a child if I would ever sit down and write a book I would have said, “Hell no!” Add to the fact that I hardly had any interest in reading. Except for what I had to read in high school English, I had no desire curling up in a corner with a book. Magazine articles, no longer than 12 paragraphs in length, kept my attention outside of school because they were easy reading. Remember, I come from the MTV generation where we have an attention span of 20 seconds vs. today’s kids who prefer under 5 seconds before moving on…anyhow, it’s a wonder I sat down to write this story at all. Maybe it was U2 that kept me on the path of staying the course or maybe I had finally succumbed to the family business and now garnered interest because the writing process of my memoir really started by chance.

The book began when I sat on the train headed to Iowa, to visit my folks, and I brought along my wife’s computer. The blank screen that stared at me after I turned it on meant I had to make a call, watch a DVD or start to write for the next six hours of two-rail travel. Why I wanted to write was beyond me but by the time I got to my destination later in the evening, I had fifteen single space pages in the bag. Over the course of the next three days, I kept chipping away. Something needed to be expunged and upon my arrival back to Union Station in Chicago, I had fifty more pages under my belt. The story read as a stream of consciousness while not really going anywhere. Think of it as Michaelangelo taking about two swings at a hunk of marble and stepping back saying, “HMMMMM.” That’s about what I had but the “Hmmmmm” was being underlined with something very familiar to me – how U2 had been with me through the thick and the thin.

I had surrendered to a nervous breakdown four months prior to the train trip and the rambling life confession glowing back at me on screen was telling me how important the band had become to my well being. I was struggling with my career and my mom’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. I knew the outcome of her disease and wanted to suspend her in time. I wanted to remember her for the good times before she got sick. I think that is why I wanted to write because it kept her alive and well in a moment in which she would never return. More importantly, writing became my escape because there were no rules, no clients to worry about, no time line or budget, just me and the computer working out life’s issues, which became the groundwork for I’m a Fan.

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