Budding Writer, 1979: A quiet voice inside

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Snow falls over North Hero, Vermont, on March 14, 2023. By Howard Fielding. Offered under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

A short entry in my journal from this date 44 years ago shows that as a budding freelancer I recognized two familiar demons, but also for the first time I also began to listen to reason — from an unusual source:

I’m still pondering my next project, my next step toward finding work, and my application to the deanery. My reluctance and procrastination, along with a quiet voice inside, seem to indicate that it might be best to forget this one and wait for something ideal to come up.

Journal, Volume II
23 March 1979

Procrastination and reluctance — the latter partly because I’m by nature an independent introvert who hates to ask anyone for anything — were nothing new as I struck out on my new career. Procrastination puts off until tomorrow what ought to be done today. Reluctance can be crippling — a journalist must ask questions — and successful writers usually have communities of their peers to rely on.

But that “quiet voice inside?” That was new. I’ve heard it from time to time ever since. Call it instinct, or inspiration, or internal dialog, or the voice of God, whatever. In the strange world of space-time, it might even be the influence of future events pulling me in a path to secure their outcome. Whatever it is, it’s real and it keeps coming back. It has never steered me wrong.

I’ve heard it many other times in my adult life, usually whispering in my right ear. It appears at important turning points in my life — finding the right love, deciding to raise a family, picking a career. The same voice told me to leave law school and try writing. As a layman, it gave me the themes and words for two church sermons. It told me when it was time to retire (slightly early) as a journalist and strike out on my own again. It keeps whispering new ideas for projects, so rapidly that I can’t keep up.

Is it normal? Supernormal? A gift? A curse? My imagination?

Will people think I’m odd to admit it, or, recognizing it, to share it?

That last question is probably the least important. People who know me already know I’m odd.

Now you do, too.

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