Imagination is hopping, 1979

Reading Time: 2 minutes
Sunrise in Southbury, Connecticut, February 1, 2022. By Howard Fielding. Offered under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

Continuing my journey through my early journals as a young freelance writer, I found this excerpt from 44 years ago:

My imagination is hopping these days, and my next major projects will be to finish and mail the Student Lawyer piece and then to study actual structure of plotting, etc., at the libraries. After all, these style manuals are mostly for ready reference — not for reading and memorizing. I really should get down to the serous study in order to justify my title of writer.

Howard W. Fielding, “Journal, Volume II,” 4 February 1979

I can’t blame you if, after reading this, you are saying “Enough! Get on with it!” So am I, nearly a half-century later. Most of the journal entry was about “wasting” my day. I had to justify it:

I tend to shortchange myself in logging days like this one as ‘wasted.’ Actually, I took in a great deal today. In Bible study I finished Matthew and read Revelations in its entirety. I also read a bit of Chicago [Manual of Style] and [Theodore] Bernstein, called Mom, and spent too many hours watching TV …


As I had done at home, I justified that screen time as creative input. On this particular day I watched a PBS documentary about Explorer posts and a favorite episode of “The Avengers” (Steed and Mrs. Peel, not the Marvel Comics version). I also watched “The Bad News Bears” and “The Way We Were.” I did have an interest in becoming a critic, so watching television and feature films was background that enhanced my cultural literacy that way.

But I should have spent less time watching TV and more time doing my homework. That’s a dad talking, two lifetimes later. (Today I’m five years older than my own father was at the time.)

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