Budding Writer, 1979: Best birthday ever!

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My first two sales, one fiction and one nonfiction, from 1979. By Howard Fielding. Offered under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

Sometime around my birthday weekend, 44 years ago, I wrote in my journal that this was “perhaps the best birthday I’ve ever had, despite the mournful wet/snowy/foggy weather.”

Two points made this a red-letter day. Point one was a successful birthday party/movie night in the attic of the house we rented. More on that, perhaps … someday.

… Point two: Two wonderful birthday presents came in the mail today: packages of my complimentary copies of the issues of The Church Herald and Student Lawyer with my articles in them! What a delightful surprise to become a published writer on my birthday! I like to think of it as more than coincidence. …

Journal, Volume II
April 1979

Comp copies and tear sheets were standard in the business. Perhaps they’re less so in this digital age, when PDF proofs can be emailed and stories live online forever, or until they’re deleted, whichever comes first.

Sooner or later, almost every writer who pursues the dream will have the thrill of being published. It’s easier today with so many online sources and self-publishing on a blog as another option. (He says, tapping into WordPress.)

But getting my first works of nonfiction and fiction in the mail on the same day — that was a rush I’ll treasure forever.

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