Budding Writer, 1979: An arts editor again

Reading Time: 2 minutes
The sun makes a guest appearance in between rain and floods in Vermont, July 14, 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!

Oh, boy, what a day!

Weather hot, muggy. Editing non-eventful. Reporting bagged due to cancelled meeting.

But today I became an arts page editor again. Perhaps more important, I had the thrill of laying out and pasting up my arts pages myself. Oh, sure, granted it took me 4 hours and I never would have succeeded had I covered a meeting — particularly a lengthy one. But now I can do it. Minor decisions on style are already in trial stages; I know my way around the plant.

How can I describe the thrill of putting together my own page? Seeing the blue + white lined page turn gray, then offset by black + white, gave me a sense of accomplishment. More important, I had control of what was played how. This was not an easy choice, with no less than three reviews competing with a column, a new calendar, and news. But it was all mine — and all arts! I feel that I have contributed something important to the paper and to myself.

Journal, Volume II
23 July 1979 (Retrospective)

That pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?

I would see that again and again throughout my journalistic career. Writing is fun and interesting, but it’s more so to see things come together on the page — and to make that happen.

It’s entrepreneurial. As an only child, I suppose I’ve grown accustomed to doing things myself. There’s a time for teamwork, but there’s also a place to envision things oneself and make them happen.

Here I had created something entirely new: an arts section in a weekly newspaper that never had one. Not only had I made it from scratch, but I was improvising. I designed the page, wrote and edited the copy, decided how to play the stories.

Having that kind of control makes the whole project worthwhile.

In many ways, that’s why I find blogging — and self-publishing — so attractive, even today.

2 thoughts on “Budding Writer, 1979: An arts editor again

  1. Amen. No matter what the form, every artist gets a bit closer to God when he or she creates something.

    1. Thanks, Celeste. I never thought of myself — or being an editor — as an artist, but the physical act of creating something beyond words on paper is itself a blessing.

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.