Time to move on, 1978

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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’m pretty sure what I want to do now. Primarily I want to write. Secondarily I want to edit. I must be away from distractions if I am to write; my most productive work year was at law school, where I had no TV, few friends (most of whom were busy), and no distractions. There, not only did I digest incredible amounts of material, but I also wrote more than ever before, had sincere inspiration and ability, and even managed to maintain a fitness program. I must stop this job hunting preoccupation immediately and get off somewhere and WORK!

22 November 1978

My journey through my journals in search for the history of my “Margery” play has led me to the turning point, 44 years ago, when I decided to become a writer.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that creative “work” and “a job” aren’t mutually exclusive. You can have your cake and eat it too, only in smaller portions.

So, in Thanksgiving week of 1978, I decided to go off on my own to my private garret (it actually turned out to be a converted porch front studio apartment) and become a writer. After the holidays, that is, because I couldn’t bear to leave my mother alone for Christmas. I remained on vacation/holiday for December and struck out for Hanover, N.H., just after the new year.

For four decades now, I’ve known that to write I need an environment with no distractions. In retrospect, it was probably not the smartest move to go back to my old college town and buddies. And as much as I wanted to live independently, that’s hard to do when you don’t have a job to pay the rent.

But that’s all in the future, or the past, in my journals. I’ll share some of those entries as their anniversaries approach. Meanwhile, lesson learned: If you need to be free from distractions, that includes trying to make ends meet.

“Eagle-Eyed Gull Guard,” Colchester, Vermont, August 13, 2022. By Howard Fielding. Offered under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

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