These years saw more very modest success in getting short stories published in journals and magazines. Also had success entering my fiction in a variety of contests, such as those sponsored by Willamette Writers (Portland) and Pacific Northwest Writers (Seattle). I began sharing my fiction with various Language Arts classes I was teaching at Canby High. “Marlene” was a favorite, a story about an insecure young man trying to win the deeper affections of his girlfriend. It involves a bit of fantasy, and biting the heads off chickens. I took week-long writing workshops and honed my craft. I even taught fiction writing to an evening community ed. class. The primary focus of my writing during these years, though, was Perimeters, my Vietnam novel. It took a lot of research and years to write; it’s a complex, psychological story with various plot lines and characters. I employed two cardboard boxes: one was full of scraps of paper upon which I’d jot ideas for characters, scenes, etc.; and the other box contained the scraps I used in the story. A messy system. The excitement of writing never flagged. Weekdays during the school years I would often awaken at 5:00am, write for two hours and then go teach. Weekends and holidays were taken up with writing. My wife and two young daughters were very considerate of my needs. One daughter or the other would sometimes come into the den, sit on my lap and watch me write. After completing the book, I submitted an excerpt to a contest sponsored by Pacific Northwest Writers and won a prize; an agent expressed keen interest; I worked with an New York editor at Bantam Books on two rewrites, but it all came to naught. The book was never published.
(Part IV later)