Budding Writer, 1979: At the Hop Part II

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“X Marks the Spot, August 21, 2022, Sloatsburg, New York” by Howard Fielding. Offered under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

Even as my work at the Journal Opinion was taking a turn for the better, I still fretted about my opportunities for the job at the Hopkins Center publicity office. Things weren’t moving as quickly as I’d hoped, and time was running out.

Well, I had my second — and probably final — interview for the Hop job today. No word yet, which may be a bad sign: they were planning to have made the decision by this afternoon, and promised to contact me. Still, this means nothing yet.

Journal, Volume II
26 July 1979

Major worry: I still haven’t heard from the Hop. This could be good — perhaps they’re not finished choosing yet. But on the other hand, maybe they’re just lazy with ding letters.

31 July 1979

On August 1, I stopped in at the newspaper office and chatted briefly with my fellow newsies. …

Too briefly, it seems, or I would have had the word that (a) the Hop called, and maybe even (b) that I did not get the job. Bummer.

Instead, I found myself visiting Mark Woodward and being told what a strong runner I had been and that my only weakness was no promotion experience. Bullshit. My only weakness was the fact that Marion neither likes me nor the fact that I wanted to stay on as arts editor at the JO.

In fact, Mark gave me an interviewing tip: Make it look like that’s the job you want, the only job in the world. **** that. I’m proud of what I do and want to do as much of it as possible. And publicity for the Hop certainly IS NOT the only job in the world — just the one to which I was perfectly suited. But I did, inevitably, get depressed. …

It was only late tonight, when Gif got me out on a stellar (sic!) Multiwar* game, that I cheered up.

1 August 1979

Howard, I love ya, man, but this series is about celebrating your successes and learning from your failures. So here are some lessons from two of your lifetimes later:

  1. Learn to deal with rejection. You’re a writer. You’ll get lots of ding letters. You’ll also have employers and potential dates turn you down. It’s part of life.
  2. Listen to your interviewer’s advice. You were smart to ask him what you could have done better. If you want an opportunity, you have to be enthusiastic.
  3. Don’t blame others, and don’t blame yourself. It wasn’t Marion’s fault that you were toting around your baggage.
  4. You cannot serve two masters. Working full time at the Hop publicity office and part-time as an arts editor for the paper is doomed to failure at both.
  5. Appreciate your friends. You badly needed a change in attitude. This wasn’t the first time your friend Jim saved your bacon. It won’t be the last.

* Fun Fact: Multiwar was an early, text-based, multiplayer computer game played on terminals of the campus computer center (and its satellites). Players piloted starships along X,Y coordinates and tried to destroy Klingon ships piloted by computer (or other players).

2 thoughts on “Budding Writer, 1979: At the Hop Part II

    1. That it was, Jim. It was therapeutic. I recall an imbroglio around a brother named William [Redacted] . When Root came online and named his ship the Will [Redacted], I gave the order to “Fire at Will.” It was a most rewarding outcome. Many thanks for sensing when I needed a good water fight or game of Multiwar.

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