Budding Writer, 1979: But I’m happy. Am I?

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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!

The first few days of June, 1979, were invigorating and stimulating for my writing. I entered a few new stories into my journal, along with potential markets:

A mixed day — sunshine enough to get burned, followed by storms enough to get soaked. The day’s activities were much the same. … in the PM I edited “The Wedding Presence” and worked on my 2 “Poetic Justice” pieces with the intent of sending them, with others, to Student Lawyer. …

Journal, Volume II
5 June 1979

The “Poetic Justice” pieces were riffs on familiar poems, which I intended to submit to Student Lawyer magazine. Apparently I was working on satires of T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” and Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven.”

God, what a beautiful day! Sun-drenched, through rain-washed skies — cool, dry, and comfortable. Everything bathed in bright, golden-white light, with sharp shadows and patterns. It was a day I was thankful to be alive, to be here, and to be able to see. …

On Robert’s call, I went in today to interview Tim O’Conner, Speaker of the Vt. House. Good, but nothing particularly stellar. Robert and I agreed that July 4 would be a good day to start the arts page.

… [C]ontinued work on “Presence,” “Prufock,” and Poe, J. tonight.

Journal, Volume II
6 June 1979

I don’t know if it was Freudian slip, the late hour, or just carelessness, but the next two entries are dated 1978. I described 7 June as “another gorgeous day, perfect for riding in the country” — which I did in going with another reporter to interview sources in Woodstock and Sharon. Then I wrote:

I gave some thought today to going back to law school — at Vermont Law School, if I can transfer my credit. I’ll have to write to them and to Camden about it. After all, I do have the aptitude, Vermont is a good state and market for lawyers, and my newspaper work has whetted my appetite for it. Moreover, I have a wealth of potential partners. And possibly I could keep on part-time with the newspaper to keep my sanity.

Journal, Volume II
7 June 1978 [sic]

Law school was depressing and hectic. Working on a newspaper was hectic and depressing. And I was thinking about doing both “to keep my sanity?”

By the next day, the weather was changing.

Cloudy day, threatening rain. Occluded day, threatening headaches. Lots of copy work. … Four overdue articles. A tedious, but amusing Parish Players production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Tired. Headaches rumbling in the distance …

Journal, Volume II
8 June 1978 [sic]

And then:

Cloudy day. Cloudy mentality. Grew into a true depression when I learned [expletive-ing] [nickname] is getting $300 per week, as is [name]. Shit. I’m making 1/5 of that. But I’m happy. Am I?

… Jeez, am I depressed!

Journal, Volume II
9 June 1979

Sunset lingers over Plattsburgh, New York, June 2, 2023. By Howard Fielding. Offered under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

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