Budding Writer, 1979: Short and sweet

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A rainbow peeks sheepishly over a farm field in North Hero, Vermont, after a week of storms and floods, July 16, 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!

A year after I first started out on my adventure to “find myself,” as my mother put it, things were looking up:

Short and sweet. Just like yesterday, except: I saw the page in print + was pleased; I was called back for my Hop interview; and Robert was talking — very confidentially — about the possibility of acquiring The Hanover Gazette and making me editor thereof.

MY GOD! I’d jump at the chance, although it’s very up in the air. It could conflict with my accepting or keeping the Hop job — but how could I turn it down? To have a boss who has that kind of confidence in your work is quite a compliment.

He says he liked the work I have been doing, and that basically I’m doing all types of editorial work already. True. He also said my reporting style is strong and reputable enough to turn over a town like Hanover to me. Pleasing. My background in town, Dartmouth, and the Hop would be perfect. I was pleased, proud, and I admit I had trouble with daydreams. It could fall through. But, then …

Journal, Volume II
25 July 1979

How much of all this is true? Certainly the “short and sweet” part wasn’t. This is one of my longer journal entries.

There was a Hanover Gazette that had its offices on Lyme Road in Hanover. I had even applied for the position of editor when it was about to launch, but opted not to follow through. The title launched in August, shortly after this conversation, and lasted about six months before it became The Gazette out of nearby Lyme, New Hampshire.

With its downtown and thriving campus community, Hanover was a far more lucrative market for a newspaper than any of the surrounding towns. It had potential to become a flagship for Robert’s business.

On the other hand, it might have folded just as quickly.

Robert also knew I was under consideration for the job at the Hopkins Center. I was just about the only editor he had for the Journal Opinion at the time. Would he seriously have traded that position for another base to cover?

Or was he trying to tempt me with an alternative in case I got the Hop offer?

I’d soon find out.

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