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!
During the last few months of 2022, I’ve been sharing same-date journal entries from 1978. That’s when I first set out on a writing career. I started reading these as part of my research into “Harry Houdini and the Witch of Beacon Hill,” which I hope to complete in early 2023.
But I quickly discovered that many of my struggles and doubts of 44 years ago continued to follow me throughout my career. That’s why I’m sharing them here from time to time: To inspire myself and perhaps some other writers early (or late) in their careers.
At the end of each year, I wrote longer year-in-review entries and forecasts on the coming year. Today I’ll share excerpts from 1978 in review. Tune in tomorrow for my look-ahead to 1979. No spoilers! You’ll have to wait until this time next year for the 1979 review.
Meanwhile, here’s how I started the 1978 retrospective:
Is that straightforward enough? To be fair, many of my year-end journal entries and most of my year-end columns for the newspaper started with a “good riddance” lede. It creates the chance for contrasting good news in the look-ahead.
Then the good news:
In fact, the one thing that had kept my spirits up during the year was my writing. Two serials … kept me in good spirits and in contact with several friends. Beginning a short story about the Bellvue-Stratford hotel, writing a dissenting opinion for the Rutgers Law orientation handbook, and continuing poetic and satirical “legal” writing — as well as pulling ‘A’ grades in Research and Writing class — released the law school pressure, but increased the frustration, for I knew there was something else I would rather be doing.Journal
January 1, 1979, supplemental
But more telling was this observation:
During all this time I attempted to begin writing projects as well, but always failed to carry them through — partly because of more immediate problems, partly because of distractions at home.ibid.
… And I could pretty much write that again 44 years later.