Budding Writer, 1979: Proud and happy

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A foggy evening at Olympic National Park, Forks, Washington, September 1, 2015. 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!

Times change, places change, people change. And yet, things never change.

I could come back here easily, fit in at home and around. But I would get very little work done, I think.

I spoke to Dad today. Good to talk to him. I’ll see him tomorrow–alone, for once–before I leave for Hanover/Bradford. He likes my work. I’m proud and happy.

Journal, Volume II
1 September 1979
Wayne, N.J.

I’m back, just as I was on this date 44 years ago.

On that day, I was again visiting my mother and our old hometown. I had completed my year of transition from law student to professional writer, as tenuous at that was. And I was about to embark on a new career as a journalist.

In some ways, my father’s approval marked the success–and closing–of my transitional year. In general, he wasn’t thrilled when I chose a writing career over something more lucrative, such as law or business. When he first read my attempts at short stories, he had encouraged me to get some real life experience first. I was taking a victory lap.

Even in the month gap in my journal, I had plenty I wanted to write about, if only in retrospective entries. I made a bulleted list, even before I knew what a bulleted list was. Among them:

  • Where are they now, that old high school gang?
  • Me? A substitute teacher?
  • Titles without work
    • “Deus ex machina”
    • “The Mysterious Mr. E”
    • “The Mystery of Miss Terry”
    • “Disco Tex”
  • Great writers I have known: colony?
  • Newspaper: compliments, satisfaction, respect
  • Fiction: ignored, stylebook, future
  • Sad and lonely: My life as Multiwar
  • God, I’m getting old
  • Sleepless nights
  • Where will I be, one year from now?
  • Dr. Orland sez “take time for yourself.”
  • … and the like. Do remind me, won’t you?

The journal did remind me, of course, two lifetimes later. You can probably read behind the lines on some of these.

I did follow through on some of them. Others I left behind or took for granted.

But the best professional advice I ever got was something I still find myself ignoring today. That was the bit from my family physician: “Take time for yourself.”

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