I had a day off from work yesterday (the other work) and made a family day trip to San Antonio, which meant that I didn’t spend 10 hours in front of a computer before dinnertime, which meant that by the time we got home and the boys were in bed I still had the mental wherewithal to spend two or three hours on my preliminary chronology for James.

I’ve now pulled together key dates and facts from hundreds of pages of articles and FBI files (not to mention quite a few “facts” from the latter) and arranged them year by year. While I was doing all this, and without my really trying, eight or nine key chapters of James’ life emerged — some lasting a couple of decades, some less than a year.

Next, I’ll divide up the chronology according to those chapters and look for what’s obviously missing or unclear. (For example, James’ second wife wasn’t mentioned in his obituaries. What became of her?) I’ll also be looking for any inflection points that I’ve missed — episodes where something fundamentally changed in James’ life and a new chapter started.

This last bit has me thinking about my own life. Where have my inflection points been? Two come to mind quite clearly, but is that it? If so, that doesn’t make for much of a biography, which may help explain why I’m writing someone else’s.