First paycheck, 1979

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A watercolor sunset over Lake Champlain from North Hero, Vermont, March 9, 2019. By Howard Fielding. Offered under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

That first check! That’s the milestone many writers use for the start of their writing career. Mine came on this date 44 years ago, as I discovered in my journal from my first year as a freelancer:

Continued mild weather, for which driving was quite pleasant — pleasant enough that I went on up to Bath after my meeting in Bradford. Oh, boy! My first paycheck as a writer or reporter! I was very pleased with myself.

Also, “Wenceslas” continues smoothly, albeit slowly: as with the beginnings of “Deck the Halls,” I find I can only write bits at a time. Perhaps I’ll get over that tomorrow. …

Journal, Volume II
9 March, 1979

Tomorrow. Again. As in “never put off until tomorrow what you can do to-day.” Thomas Jefferson’s first Canon of Conduct should also be the first rule for freelancers and entrepreneurs. Tomorrow was one of my biggest enemies when working for myself. In contrast, newspapers have daily deadlines that kept me productive.

I think I did finish the short story “Good King Wenceslas” but I don’t recall what happened to “Deck the Halls.” They may turn up in future journal entries, and I may have some drafts of the Christmas Carols collection in long-forgotten files in the attic.

But a writer can be at work even when not hitting the keyboard. The remainder of this day’s entry notes how listening to a radio talk show, reading an H.P. Lovecraft story, and watching a TV sitcom all got me thinking about Mind’s Eye, the story about identity that seems even more timely now.