About this series: I revisited my journals from my first year as a freelance writer and found they told a story of their own. In this series I get the rare opportunity to give myself, and other writers, career advice with nearly 50 years of hindsight. Enjoy!
I suppose any writer must have big dreams sooner or later. Take, for example, this excerpt from my journal on visiting a college buddy, a budding novelist then studying law, in Boston in 1978:
Face it — [Larry’s] reading list is wierd[sic]. Mostly it consists of incredibly complex modern literature of the intricately word-woven variety. … No wonder [he] writes that way. (Al describes it at “six adjectives in search of a noun.”) Larry showed me his library last night and predicted that someday, college English classes will study not only [him] but also the works that influenced him. For without the verbal (and film and musical) background, there is no knowing this artist or his works.Journal
October 17, 1978
If that sounds cynical and judgmental, it was. Then, on the next page, I seriously thought about editing my high school and college papers into book form. I figured this exercise would give me practice in copy editing and provide me with a historical perspective much like the one I’m getting from re-reading the journal.
But more important (for me, anyway), would be to follow my thematic development and influences through the years, and to get in touch with what I was and have become. I may find (re-)sources I’ve forgotten or was unable to recognize in the past.
Even if unpublished, if I ever do become a great writer, these collections would enable future scholars to follow my development. Quite naturally, the collections would have to be all my preserved writings, including (and in college, particularly) the newspaper articles.Ibid.
I didn’t see the irony in those two entries at the time. I do now, a lifetime later.
Larry became a successful lawyer. He continued his life interest in the arts, film, and literature. But, according to his obituary from this time last year, apparently he never did finish that Great American Novel.