I have always written. But as of this writing, early in 2005, I have never “published” anything. That is, I have never been paid for what I wrote.
As a student I wrote as much as I was required to. At St Andrew’s School in the sixties, for students in the honors English course, that was a lot. I still have many of my papers from St Andrew’s, but not where I can get to them at present. I also have some papers I wrote at Sewanee. I ended up taking my degrees from the University of Tennessee (Chattanooga), where few papers were required. If I have anything from there it would be my master’s thesis, and would also be in storage.
In 1971, at the tender age of 25, I ran for public office in Dunlap, Tennessee. In several issues of the local weekly I wrote out my platform in detail, something no candidate there had done before. On election day I came in seventh in a field of seven. In fact I had fewer votes than I had signatures on my qualifying petition. But in subsequent years a good many candidates published written platforms; and in the next ten or twelve years after I ran the commissioners implemented nearly all of my platform.
In those days I was drafted to be president of the local Jaycee chapter. As such I wrote a weekly column, JAYCEE CORNER, for the Dunlap Tribune. Now a county weekly in those days was more a bulletin board than a newspaper, and nearly everyone who brought in an item would ask for it to be run on the front page. I, on the contrary, asked for the back page, and got it. I enjoyed seeing people pull a Tribune from their post office box, or buy one in the drugstore, and flip it immediately to the back page to see what outrage I had written that week.
For a while in the early seventies I reviewed books for the Chattanooga Times. My working orders were that I was not to praise everything indiscriminately, but to review honestly and, if I thought a book bad, say so. I did, panning well over half of the fiction I covered. After a couple of years, and after I had submitted three pans in a row, books for review stopped coming.
The election articles, Jaycee columns, and perhaps some of the book reviews are in storage.
I have always been a letter writer and diarist, but nearly all of my old correspondence and diaries have been burned. I wish I had not burned certain things that I did; but for the most part the stuff needed burning. There were literally pounds of it.
After the early seventies I slowed down on writing, and until recently recall almost nothing that made it into print except some letters to editors. In time I quit writing those too. I would struggle and sweat to get the exact diction, rhythm, punctuation, capitalization, spelling that I wanted, and then some editor with a tin ear would “correct” my work—without my consent. I was embarrassed that people would read the stuff those editors published over my signature and think I wrote it that way.
So from the late seventies to 2000 I did little prose writing, and most of what I did does not survive. The few items on this web page include almost all the accessible writing that does survive, exclusive of some correspondence and diaries that escaped the burning or have been written since.
In all those years I never received a nickel for anything I wrote, although on “Capture of the data stalker”, q.v., I came close.
But in the early eighties I got into another kind of writing, wholly different, and I still do a little of it today. I got into computer programming.
Programming was something I had a little exposure to, and had worked in for a couple of years, back in mainframe days. But I got into it in earnest starting in 1983, when computers, formerly available only to larger businesses, became something anyone could own.
My list of things to write includes the story of my programming business, so I will not say much about programming here. Just two things.
First, I did get paid for programming. Not nearly as much as I should have been paid, but that belongs to the programming story. But I did make more than cost of living; and it is because I hoarded my savings that I am able, at age 59, to be mostly retired from business and able to pursue other things.
Second, programming was both satisfying and frustrating. Satisfying, because I enjoyed the work and produced excellent material. Frustrating, because never in twenty years was my work ever examined by an advanced-level programmer capable of appreciating it, appreciating the internal code, the guts of the programs. I wanted to hear a competent evaluator say, “Wow! This is really impressive!” I wanted my excellence to be publicly acknowledged. But that never happened, and I still long for it.
Here is a sample of assembly language coding, and here is one in the Pascal language. Over my programming career I would estimate I wrote seven or eight thousand pages of this stuff, of which about 2165 pages comprise the final form of my software product. So I did not exactly quit writing in the eighties and nineties.
Well, at any rate we come now to the present, in which I am beginning to try a little experimental writing. Writing on purpose, we might say. We will see whether I can produce anything that will attract a publisher, or even a reader.
Now you know why there is so little posted on this web site.
© 2005 Joseph Mansfield
MARCH 2005 Besides writing, I have also read a good bit. I wish I could say I have read systematically. But I have not. I have read mostly whatever was lying around. Since 1975 I have kept fairly accurate records of my reading material. Some items read earlier are included in the lists under a 1975 date; others are just not listed. Here are links to books read, by author and by year. I also have records of serial publications read, but some of this material is in storage and not presently accessible.
JANUARY 2006 Here are a couple of resumes made up last year, one mostly limited to computer programming experience and the other including material not related to computers.