Budding Writer, 1979: First serial rights

Reading Time: 2 minutes
Sunburst highlights the lingering snowflakes in North Hero, Vermont, on February 17, 2023. By Howard Fielding. Offered under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

One of the lessons I learned early on as a freelancer was how to juggle multiple projects at once. That’s easier to do with short articles for publication in magazines than it is for the book-length manuscripts I’m working on these days. Juggling more than one of those can make them all seem never-ending.

The journal from my first year as a freelancer shows that on this date 44 years ago, I was about to finish my third article for submission to a magazine. To date my score was one acceptance, one go-ahead, which was a pretty good batting average. I was hoping that this one would be a third success.

Rainy day; got stuck again in access road coming back this morning. Some laundry and TV, also sewing today: very domestic. I did, however, complete my draft for the Church Herald piece on American tourists vs. Christian pilgrims. I think I’ll offer first serial rights, as this might be of interest to other religious publications as well. I’ll type + mail it Monday, then with any luck I’ll head for N.J. …

Howard W. Fielding
Journal, Volume II
24 February 1979

There’s a lot to unpack in this short entry. First, you should know that although I still do the laundry, I don’t sew. You can’t really say that I did back then, either. I did button repair.

The Church Herald was a denominational magazine of the Reformed Church in America. My home church, with which I toured the Holy Land the previous summer, was part of the RCA. Although I enjoyed the tour and learned a great deal from it, I was appalled at the behavior of American tourists, including our group, at some of the holiest of sacred sites for three major religions.

I decided this behavior merited an instructional (albeit preachy) article about how to behave at religious shrines. As the same topic would be of interest to other denominations that might have their own publications, but the markets would not overlap, first serial rights seemed the way to go so I could sell it to other markets.

Did I? We’re getting ahead of ourselves. You’ll just have to read on.

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