Appreciating Neil Peart’s Writer Discipline

SKF NOTE: From Neil Peart’s letter to me from Toronto on October 31, 1985. As much as I appreciated our drum discussions, I have very fond memories of the thoughts Neil and I shared about writing.

The older I get, the more time seems finite, the more I appreciate Neil’s discipline with his writing.In this letter Neil’s reminds us how far we’ve all come with computer technology. In 1985 Neil “just got…an electric typewriter,” and says, “it’s really time…to think about a word processor [and] printer.”

Neil’s China journal was published as “Riding the Golden Lion.” I still have my copy in a good place.


I’ve been back from China for a couple of weeks now, but I came back with a 40 page journal of the trip, and really wanted to get it typed up while the memories are still fresh. That turned out to take two and a half weeks, putting it into my little computer, juggling it around, and typing up the final draft.

I’ve finally got myself an electronic typewriter here, but it’s really time for me to think about a word processor, with a printer, to cut a job like that in half. It’s the biggest writing job by far that I’ve ever undertaken, perhaps something like your History of Drumming piece was in that kind of scale.

Since I didn’t take a camera with me at aI1, but was determined to capture the images in my head, and then in words, the whole exercise was a great experience for me, and the resulting 45 page typescript is a hefty reward. I’m going to get it typeset, and send out copies to the other members of the tour group, and to other interested parties. I’Il take the liberty of assuming that you might be one of the latter, and send you a copy.

5o here I am telling you about my trip to China, one of the biggest events of my whole life, and I’m talking to you from the writer’s point of view. 0h well, part of the job of writing it was to sort out my personal views, so I’ll let the journal do my story-telling in that department.

Suffice it to say that it uas a tougher trip than I anticipated, both physically and in terms of the conditions in which we lived some of the time, but it was also more inwardly rewarding than I had hoped.

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