Budding Writer, 1979: A bargain I cannot afford

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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.

Today’s entry on my journal from my first year freelancing shows that I was on the path to becoming the proverbial starving writer:

Clear and cold today, but my mind was also clear and words flowed like sap on a warm spring day. Today I wrote about 1500 words — good stuff, too — on a Tex “Dr. Strangelove” wedding adventure. Maybe it’s because I’m using the first person perspective. Maybe it’s because it’s a story I’d like to hear and to tell, but whatever the cause, I am really, really psyched! It feels so good to be writing for fun and writing well!

The rest of the day was a letdown. My financial situation is fading fast — net worth about $1100, which might last me through June, but I’ll need to be getting income from somewhere by then. Roger, Bev and I made a Riverside Grill run that was a bargain I nevertheless cannot afford …

Journal, Volume II
28 March 1979

Perhaps I was “writing well” on the story, but again the journal writing is weak: “really, really psyched!” Really. Even the sap metaphor was weak. The only sap that was running was the writer.

It’s interesting that I chose the wedding story, which later became “The Wedding Presence.” The real Tex was a loyal friend, a colorful character with a wild sense of humor. This story sprung from one of his “You know what I’d like to do?” moments. It was purely for my own entertainment, and for those who knew him. It would have had no commercial value. I wouldn’t have tried to publish it, anyway, because it was too personal and about a dear friend.

The next day’s journal entry shows that I completed the story, which I titled “Strangelove Conquers All.” I surprised myself with the ending, writing “This may necessitate some rework, but it comes out brilliantly, I think.”

Roger and Bev were housemates and fraternity brothers (women were brothers in the co-ed fraternity too). The Riverside was a popular place for cheap diner food. Even so, eating out is more expensive than cooking at home. Today, Riverside runs are a thing of the past. The diner appears to have closed during the pandemic.