"Bunny's- Eye View," Southbury, Connecticut, April 14, 2020. By Howard Fielding. Offered under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

Budding Writer, 1979: Give him time

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“Bunny’s- Eye View,” Southbury, Connecticut, April 14, 2020. By Howard Fielding. Offered under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

In the days before email and texting, most people used what we now call “snail mail” not only to conduct business, but for personal letters.

Somewhere in the attic I have a shoebox (or two) filled with personal letters from many friends. With a few of them — including my girlfriends (even when they were simply girl friends) — I carried on deep, philosophical conversations.

On this date in 1979, I “wrote a LONG letter” to the female friend who visited me during the cold winter carnival. She had dropped me a card with a quote from Goethe: “Talent is produced in solitude … character in the stream of life.” I responded that maybe I was overemphasizing the solitude in my search for talent, and she the experience in a search for character.

I have no idea what I meant by that, but it was probably B.S. Sharing a house with three other young adults and partying with my fraternity was hardly solitude. And this woman already had a fine character. She still does.

But the part of that day’s journal entry that I wanted to share was about my Cousin Tom, (Although he’s not identified by name here, I suppose I ought to tell him about these posts.)

Fascinating point of the day: getting a note and copy of the Demolay Cordon from cousin Tom. An impressive-looking little magazine, considering he seems to do the whole thing — but the writing and editing leaves something to be desired. Give him time.

Meanwhile I entertained notions as serving as an editorial consultant for him and maybe someday eventually going into magazine work together.

Journal, Volume II
17 April 1979

Give him time, indeed! As my buddy Tex infamously said:

HUBRIS! Deadly pride! It gets you every time. It sneaks up behind you, and says ‘I’m gonna get you,’ and when it’s got you, it says ‘WHEE! I’ve got you!’ HUBRIS! Deadly pride!”

— Tex

I had let my recent victories go to my head. Here was the big, successful, published writer passing judgement on a debut effort. In truth, my own efforts were nothing remarkable.

Did you catch that line about how I “entertained notions as serving as an editorial consultant?” It should have been “… of serving as … .” I wouldn’t have been much of an editorial consultant if I couldn’t even proofread my own copy.

Hubris. Deadly pride. It gets you every time.