Budding Writer, 1979: It feels good to share feelings

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Orange day lilies, or tiger lilies, grow in a garden in Southbury, Connecticut, June 21, 2023. By Howard Fielding. Offered under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

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!

Experts (journalists love to quote the “experts”) have observed that transitions are among the most stressful times in life. New job? New school? New relationship? New home? You’re going to have new stresses.

I was going through all of those changes as the calendar closed on my first year out of law school. I’d left home, started a new career as a freelance writer, and begun a job hunt. My friends and I had lost the lease on the comfortable home we were renting and I was forced to move back into our old fraternity house. Oh, and I was running out of money.

These are all stressors, and I was not handling them well.

… Still behind schedule. Adjusting somewhat to living in but nevertheless dissatisfied with what’s going on right now.

Journal, Volume II
2 July 1979 (Retrospective)

A bright, beautiful, sunny day — most of it spent indoors, moving and unpacking. Things are looking up, and miraculously almost everything seems to fit somewhere. A little more sorting out, and I’ll be in business.

A visit to the bank today showed a savings balance of $789 — hitting the danger point, with rent soon due. Ouch! But I put in my application today for the Hop job, so maybe I’ll be able to build that up pretty soon. If not, I may just fold up my tent and go home in August.

Talks this evening with Roger; Sam Dixon and Judy Stagg; Gifford and Jon-Boy. It feels good to share feelings.

3 July 1979

… Tonight I also partied (and was the only one to uni — and to feel outcast –) at Nicaragua Night. I wished Kurt Stange good luck in his endeavors, and tried very hard to convince myself — as well as others — that I am indeed a writer and can in fact make it.

6 July 1979

“Experts” also advise that during times of stress, anxiety, and depression — which these journals tell me I was going through during this time — it also helps to have a network of friends. Moving back into the fraternity helped me renew and expand that circle, many of whom are still in touch today.

That support was precisely what I needed at that time. I’ve already mentioned the feeling of being steered by God or fate to the right place to help others. Sometimes, it seems to work the other way around too.

Landing the publicity job at the Hopkins Center within a month was overly optimistic. I’ll have more to report on that in future posts, but the hiring process moves slowly — especially for a procrastinator of my sort.

Nicaragua Night? I have no idea what that fraternity theme party was all about. I was in “uni,” which meant I had some sort of costume, but apparently no one else did. Ah, well.

And Kurt Stange did have good luck with his endeavors. He went on to a distinguished career in medicine and medical education at Case Western Reserve.

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