Budding Writer, 1979: No small feat

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A Bleeding Heart plant comes into bloom in Southbury, Connecticut, May 6, 2023. By Howard Fielding. Offered under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

One thing you learn when you’re a night owl covering real 9-to-5 types: The rest of the world does not revolve around you.

Not really much to report: despite getting up at 8:00, still didn’t arrive at J-O until 10:20 — but that was OK for the meeting. Mostly we shot the breeze on the week’s stories and considered the legal ramifications of sending Pat Hammond to a hearing where she might be called on to testify as to matters of public knowledge and record. Despite my legal background, I still didn’t catch that angle (public record) until after Robert called his lawyer.

I found a couple of job leads in the Valley News and intend to follow them up tomorrow. Then I had dinner at The Chimes (why do I feel sick this late?) and attended a long and not terribly eventful Oxbow school board meeting. At least I was treated warmly there, too.

Oh, yes — [name], licensed engineer, appeared at The Chimes with family in tow. He approved of my Fairlee story. No small feat, I assure you!

Journal, Volume II
3 May 1979

It was becoming clear that my 40-minute commute to work at Bradford was not going to mesh well with my duties as a journalist. Either I had to give up the late nights or I had to move closer to work.

I don’t recall what the hearing our reporter was to attend was about, but the lawyer’s advice was sound. Public record is public record. A reporter probably wouldn’t be called on to testify about it, but if she was, there would be no problem as long as she stuck to the facts.

Did you catch the part about finding the job leads in the rival newspaper and planning to “follow them up tomorrow?” Procrastination continued to raise its ugly head. A few days earlier, I made a short note about another job lead: a one-year editorial assistant position at the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine. I was going to apply for that “tomorrow,” too. Many years later, I also intended to apply for the position of editor at DAM. That never happened either.

The Chimes, as I recall it, was a small 1940s-era restaurant that was popular with the locals. Apparently I didn’t think much of the place, but my snarky remark probably was because I was already coming down with something that lasted a day or two.

But a local seeking me out at the restaurant to compliment me on a story? That never happened again in my entire news career.

No small feat, indeed.

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