Budding Writer, 1979: Mixed emotions and fears

Reading Time: 3 minutes

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!

Sunset over Lake Champlain, July 1, 2022. By Howard Fielding. Offered under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

Moving from one home to a new one is often one of the most stressful events in a person’s life. Uncertainty leads to stress. So do transitions, taking steps backward, dashed hopes, and feelings of failure and self-doubt.

I was going through all these as the deadline ran out on the lease for the college-owned house where I was staying. I had few choices where to go next, and would run out of money in a matter of weeks.

I’m rushed tonight and will be more so tomorrow, so I’ll say I’m suffering from mixed emotions and fears that are difficult to pinpoint. I feel comfortable, but the future poses more threats of discomfort than promises of adventure. But life is what we make of it, I guess. Anyway, I’ll hang on.

Today is (officially) my last full day here, although it looks like I’ll really move out on Sunday. I’ve really enjoyed living here and must write to Morton to thank him. But it’s lonely and eerie at night.

Journal, Volume II
29 June 1979

‘Oh, look at all the lonely people …’ I’m one.

Today was action-packed, starting at 9AM with a [school board] meeting … Then lots of copy, rewrite, etc. and an alumni dinner for Orford H.S. Kept me busy, no chance to move out. Tonight at Shed, saw Farnsworth, Benson, A. Chen, and others. Went to see Goldfinger with Gif, Jon, and others.

Bond’s success with women makes me jealous … *

30 June 1979

(Retrospective) Etna-Hanover 1 July 1979

… I was bedraggled and depressed — very glum. Most people noticed it; Farnsworth saw it but understood enough not to ask. Gifford understood and offered me some talk and a screwdriver. Surprising how that cheered me up. [Lynn] noticed too, and asked why I was glum — I told her it was probably the weather.

But it was more than the weather — I was behind in moving out of Etna (still am, on the 4th!); I was violating a pledge to myself never to return to the Shed; I was touchy about my failure … in providing for myself, as a writer, in getting a job, etc. These things all tend to add up. Even a Pink Panther double feature did little to pick up my spirits. …

I’m a transient and know it. I feel lost, out of place, upset. I hope it’s largely the weather — these things pass.

1 July 1979

How could I be lonely with all those people around to support me? I’m glad you asked.

Each morning I would go to bed and wake up in an empty four-bedroom house that previously housed four friends. The other three had already moved out or on. I was alone, but my time wasn’t my own. I was frantically writing my assignments or heading off to work.

As a result, I was late moving out of the farmhouse Dartmouth Trustee William H. Morton, D ’32, had donated to the college for conversion to an equestrian center. In retrospect, I was probably dragging my heels and procrastinating because it seemed like such a great leap backward. I’d be leaving a writer’s paradise and returning to busy student housing I could barely afford.

What I didn’t appreciate, though, was that the busy student housing had one feature I needed right then: supportive friends.

As a writer and editor, Howard, you should learn the difference between jealousy and envy. Jealous is when you have something that you think someone else will take from you. Envious is when you want something that someone else has. You envied Bond. He had no reason to be jealous of you.

One thought on “Budding Writer, 1979: Mixed emotions and fears

What do you think? Let me know here. Comments are moderated, and I'll respond as soon as I can. Thanks!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.