Budding Writer, 1979: A lovely day

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Sunset at the end of a lovely day over North Hero, Vermont, January 23, 2022. By Howard Fielding. Offered under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

I started my journal entry on this date in 1979 with three lovelies:

A lovely, lovely, lovely day! Mostly wasted on my part, but lovely nonetheless.

Howard W. Fielding, “Journal, Volume II,” 23 January 1979

Those were an immature writer’s words. Today I would edit them better. Three repeats of a word do not make it more emphatic. Neither does ending a sentence with three exclamation points!!!

The word itself is, well, lovely, but it’s weak and nondescriptive. What’s lovely? The weather? Probably. That’s how I usually opened my journal entries in those days. But it could also have been I was high on job prospects or inspiration from a classmate’s breakthrough or maybe just a good social dinner with friends:

A letter out to The Valley News and information … of a potential job lead with the Bradford, Vt. Journal-Opinion headlined my job hunting prospects, which don’t seem as bleak as they had. This evening I saw John Donvan ’77 anchoring a local (Maine) TV news show, which encouraged my belief that people my age can get interesting jobs that they like. JonDon was about equally skilled in broadcasting as I was in print.


Remember, this journal was from a perspective not quite two years after college. John and I were both on the campus radio station and (I think) the Daily Dartmouth. We were both skilled at our respective media. I took this as a good omen.

John went on to a long career with ABC News, with assignments in Moscow, London, and the White House. He has won Emmy and multiple journalism awards, and was a 2017 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for “In A Different Key: The Story of Autism.”

One of the advantages of attending a highly competitive college like ours is the opportunity to launch your career network with other highly skilled people in your field. The “Old Boy Network” is an essential tool for journalists and professionals. I didn’t realize this until well into my career and have never really mastered.

As for the rest of this lovely day, I finished reading the Nicholson stylebook. I psyched myself for writing and interviewing, then had dinner with my housemates — only one of whom I have seen more than a few times since then.

One final note:

No major insights or revelations or witticisms today. What’s the use of keeping a ‘journal’ if not to record one’s brilliance? One might as well be keeping a diary.

Come to think of it …


I may have been too tough on writers using the word “lovely.” Irving Berlin used it at least twice (in different songs). Here they are, to help you have a lovely day too.

Although I haven’t seen this movie, this is the song that always runs through my mind when I think of a lovely day. (Scene runs 6 minutes.)
Frankly, though, nothing tops Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in this scene, which runs 4.5 minutes.

5 thoughts on “Budding Writer, 1979: A lovely day

  1. Such a fun read! And fun audio-visual links! (For you I won’t use 3 exclamation marks.) Thank you, Howard! Sure, it’s okay if that first Donald fellow (Wasn’t he paired once upon a time with Gene Kelley?) ends HIS number singing “It’s a lovely day” sentence THREE times. It’s just wrong for the rest of us to do likenwise, right? English sure has a lot of rules…unless one is a Shakespeare and gets to break them. OK for Donald, but not for me. Hrumph! Songs have a chorus refrain repeated, and my thoughts are on repeat in my head all the time. Guess my tiny brain needs the repetition more than most, it does not bother me at all.

    1. Hi, Celeste! Many thanks. Yes, good eye, Donald is Donald O’Connor, probably best known for the role of Cosmo Brown, Gene Kelly’s best friend in “Singin’ in the Rain” (1952). This is from “Call Me Madam,” a year later. Vera is Vera-Ellen. You might remember her as one of the sisters from “White Christmas.”

      There’s no real grammatical reason why repetition is against the rules. Sometimes it’s intentional. The film uses it at the end of the Cole Porter song for an echo effect as the scene ends with his exit.

      Good writers use descriptive language, which is why I faulted myself for using a “weak” word. There’s nothing wrong with being lovely, but saying it three times doesn’t make it any more so.

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