Year in Review, 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!

“Southbury Sunrise, December 26, 2021.” By Howard Fielding. Offered under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

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:

1978 unquestionably sucked, as years go.

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.

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.


… And I could pretty much write that again 44 years later.

2 thoughts on “Year in Review, 1978

  1. Funny to see my problems with writing actually in print from someone else! At least you actually became a writer, and with a column of your own. Some of us are just writer wannabees, Howard. You had the discipline and stick-to-it-ness to actually get some done, of quality and with humor. It might not be your grand opus, as yet, but that might be just ’round the corner in the new year! Best wishes in 2023.

    1. Thanks, Celeste! I think many of the questions and uncertainties that I had (and still have) about writing are universal. But yes, I’ve been fortunate to be able to “stay the course” and do what I set out to do. How that played out in my early years will become evident in future journal posts.

      I have several “grand opuses” in the works, and probably will turn around more than one in the coming year. All are nonfiction, so far, which is not what I had intended. But we do have to seize opportunities where we find them.

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