Budding Writer, 1979: I’m overworking

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About this series: I revisited my journals from my first year as a freelance writer and found they told a story of their own. In this series I get the rare opportunity to give myself and other writers career advice with nearly 50 years of hindsight. Enjoy!

A writer who works part-time for an employer while freelancing has to learn to juggle work — especially if the employer and the buyer are the same. (Today that is against tax and labor law, for reasons that should be obvious if you think about it).

All right day; I’m overworking. In addition to my regular schedule (I’m copyediting + heading much faster now), I researched this very big L-P story, then [ran errands for an editor] … grabbed a bite of dinner, saw “The Subject Was Roses” by Parish Players at Thetford (excellent!), and had a few drinks and a bit of talk at the House.

Question: I don’t even have time to make my journal entries. How am I going to work the hospital and digest writing? Sleep less? Commute less?

Journal, Volume II
11 May 1979

Well, Howard, if I were you (and I am!) I would drink less (and I did!). That would leave you more time to sleep and commute.

I did eventually cut out both drinking and commuting when we lost the lease on the shared house. (No, not through our own actions. The college had other plans for the property). But if I got all those jobs, sooner or later something would have to give.

Sometimes, though, these things resolve themselves. Mine was about to.

The jaws of a cloud swallow the sun at the end of the day in North Hero, Vermont, May 11, 2023. By Howard Fielding. Offered under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

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