April Fool’s Day seems an appropriate time to launch this week’s review. In a way, for me April 1 is as much a turning point as New Year’s Day, January 1.
On this date, five years ago, I retired from my three decades at the Republican-American in Waterbury, Connecticut, and published my last “Living Here” column. Here’s how it started:
It’s Easter Sunday. It’s also April Fools’ Day. It’s also springtime. At our house, the snow has finally cleared, the crocuses and tiny hyacinths are out, and this morning we spotted Mr. and Mrs. Bluebird checking out the sunny bird house in our backyard.
This is also the last edition of “Living Here,” as I have formally retired after 32 years at the Republican-American and am about to embark on Act III of my life.
We have a lot to talk about, and to top all that, my editor has asked me not to make her cry.Howard Fielding,
The Sunday Republican,
April 1, 2018
In a flashback to my theater-critic days, I’d have to say that Act III has been off to a slow start, much like the first act, which I’m chronicling here in these journal entries from 1979. In the story structure of one’s life, the passage from childhood to adulthood is mostly character development and back story. For me, the three acts are I: The Dabbler; II: The Newspaperman; III: well, whatever I am now.
I haven’t written the third act yet. It might be The Late Bloomer (a Hero’s Journey model), or The Old Fart (a tragicomedy). We’ll have to see how it turns out.
Like the first act, the first scene of the third act has many false starts. A book, or series of books, of my columns? Two years work on that were thwarted by unforeseen circumstances. A play? I finally finished it, but concluded the story-behind-the-story is almost as good, so I’m turning that into a book. Short- and long-form fiction? A few false starts but no followthrough.
As it turns out, my genre might turn out to be nonfiction, specifically humorous memoir. That’s the voice I wrote many of my columns in. It’s the way I’m approaching this series from my launching days. It’s the approach I adopted with the book-about-writing-a-play.
It’s also the voice I’m planning to use when the crew from The History Channel interviews me about the creation of Bubble Wrap. Yes, that’s back on. The interview is scheduled for the first week of May. My series from 1979 may take a break after the next week to pursue the history project. I promise you, though, I won’t leave you hanging.
That’s one lesson I learned from one of my favorite editors, Jonathan F. Kellogg: Close the loop. Don’t leave the reader with unanswered questions.
So to answer the question you’re all asking, no, I don’t think my editor — another of my favorites, right up there with Jon — cried. In the 25 years we worked together, I remember her crying only once, on the night Jon Kellogg died.
But like everyone else in the newsroom, I was crying, too.
In case you missed it …
Puff and fluff, 1979
Reading Time: 2 minutes Any local news editor understands the delicate balance between what readers and advertisers expect and what you think is important.
In Other Words … Season 2, Episode 19
Reading Time: 2 minutes Many people don’t even have the time or focus for an entire book. The culture of short videos and podcasts has taken over, to our detriment.
Top-of-the-head inventory, 1979
Reading Time: 2 minutes “Items in Stock” was, in truth, a misnomer. Some were complete, or ready for a final draft or a rewrite. Others were ideas or characters in search of a plot.
Award-winning coverage? (1979)
Reading Time: 3 minutes Newspapers have associations, which sponsor competitions. But it’s a long trip from “thinking of sending it” to actually receiving an award.