Budding Writer, 1979: Back to school

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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!

Sunset in North Hero, Vermont, January 4, 2019. Forty years earlier, I was telling my journal the beginning of my own story as a writer. By Howard Fielding. Offered under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

On the eve of my departure to my first adventure living on my own as a writer, I confided in my journal that I still had my doubts but at least had a plan. (In the excerpt below, UPNE is University Press of New England, which wasn’t hiring at the time.)

… I stayed inside packing but found myself full of doubts about this excursion.

I did, however, come to what I hope will be a final undestanding of my immediate future:

  1. I am essentially going back to school (a symbolic, as well as literal, meaning for my return to Hanover) to study writing and editing.
  2. I hope to enter a period of apprenticeship and training, perhaps with the combined newspaper and UPNE background.
  3. I shall then look for a market — either selling my writing or getting a job. the UPNE possibilities may be slim, but I could return to RD, or Prentice-Hall, or Little, Brown, or Hougton-Mifflin (where Barb found me contacts for the latter two) and sell my wares there — or set up shop on my own. There is a pattern.
5 January 1979

Yes, there was a pattern of naive youthful optimism that starts off so many coming-of-age tales woven by writers for their characters and themselves. I was telling myself a story, but had no idea what the ending would be.

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