Budding Writer, 1979: A silly place

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Rainbow over field in North Hero, Vermont, July 5, 2018. 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!

A worldly-wise 24-year-old alumnus settling back into a fraternity house full of undergrads four years his junior has some adjustments to make.

Today experts (“experts” again) say the brain is fully developed by age 25. Even “Uncle Howard,” as I was teasingly known, still had some growing to do.

A pleasant day. Wasted, unquestionably: Cleaning up at Etna, drinking and punting at Shed, only doing a tiny amount of work … I guess I could say that I was logging research on the Tau Tales.

Oh, hell… this is all so silly. But then, life itself is silly, at least as much as I’ve gotten to see of it so far …

Journal, Volume II
7 July 1979

Another pleasant day. Certainly not wasted, however: Fairlee story, 6 pages on Oxbow meeting, Parish Players review, and a Reporter’s Notebook. Not to mention the beginnings (only the beginnings, mind you) of a letter to Dave, and massive waterfights, etc. with Gif. Yes, this is all pretty silly. I’ve really got to get down to work. Fortunately, there’s room tomorrow, then some days off. But not nights.

… Yes, it’s nice to live in a silly place like this — for a while.

8 July 1979

A warm and muggy day. Other than the fact that I made an appearance in the Chapter Room this morning wearing my pith helmet, carrying an umbrella, and shouting “The Skylab is falling! The Skylab is falling!” there is little to report…

11 July 1979

Although it may not have been intentional, by saying it was a silly place I was echoing King Arthur in Monty Python and the Holy Grail:

It was a silly summer in a silly place, but students at highly competitive schools know almost intuitively that silliness is a great stress-reliever.

It is, as I have said, a silly place, but there are those who love it.

You’re only young once, but you can be immature forever.

Germaine Greer
via Judge Grant MIller

2 thoughts on “Budding Writer, 1979: A silly place

  1. Pith helmets, Skylab, and Camelot references, what s NOT to love here! Sadly, it took me another 20 years or so to discover Monty Python and the Holy Grail. You were living my dream, though, stress or no stressors, making your way as a real writer, and so charming a read.

    1. Thanks, Celeste! It was a silly summer with a great crew of people, many of whom are still friends even though we haven’t seen each other for years.
      The pith helmet was from my first job as a lifeguard. They were standard issue for the uniform. I used to tell the guard groupies not to try to take it from me because I’d get pithed off.

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