Budding Writer, 1979: Cowardice or practicality

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With barely any snow left on the ground, snow crocuses burst forth in the garden in Southbury, Connecticut, March 9, 2023. By Howard Fielding. Offered under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

As I continue my journey through the journals I kept in my first years as a freelance writer, I come to this point of decision — or indecision — 44 years ago today:

I don’t know whether it was prompted by my pencilled June 1 entry on my writer’s calendar, by my reading Sylvia Porter’s Money Book and realizing the complexities of credit and insurance for a starving writer, or by my dwindling bankbook, but I suddenly had the thought that I might consider going back to work for The Reader’s Digest.

Is it cowardice or practicality? I’m not actually sure. To continue living up here would require income and some form of organization; to live at home, and work, I would be making money with a minimum of expenses (rent, food), I would be fulfilling my filial duties, I would be making contacts, and I would be doing work that suited me. My overwhelming depression about New York might be overcome by having some friends there and having some money with which to enjoy myself.

Normally, this thought would not prompt a supplemental entry, but I’m really racing on this. The frightening thing is that only time can answer it, which bothers me. But I know I’m good — damned good — either as a writer or as an editor, and the force with which the thought struck me had me talking out the issues — which I rarely do. Was I talking with God?

Journal, Volume II
29 March 1979 SUPPLEMENTAL

I’ll confess that, yes, the “supplemental” was something I stole from Captain Kirk in Star Trek. Today we’d know it as Star Trek:The Original Series, or fondly TOS for short. In the spring of 1979, it was the one and only Star Trek. The motion picture, or Star Trek: The Motion Picture, wouldn’t come out until December.

And like Kirk, I was young and cocky. Good? Yes. Damned good? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I was inexperienced and sloppy: “pencilled” instead of the preferred “penciled,” run-on-sentences, failed parallel construction, and so on.

But just as every captain must decide whether to head in to star base or continue the mission, I was at a point where I had to choose whether to limp back home or continue to explore strange new worlds.

As for talking with God, well, I guess maybe I do that, after all.