Sunday, June 08, 2008

Burning My Past

OK, I'm 73. I have cartons upon cartons of articles I've written. For the Bergen Record, for Reader's Digest, for TV Guide, for the Daily Record, for Medical Economics, for Next, for Family Circle, and so forth. Thousands of articles. Since I began my journalistic career in 1957, with the Bergen Evening Record. For the Daily Record of Parsippany alone, I wrote around 3 columns a week for 10 years, ending last year. 1,500 approximately. In just 10 years. Assuming that I wrote 500 a year since 1957, that's 25,000. I'll estimate 15,000.

I'm culling them now, I have maybe 12 plastic boxes full. I'm going through them all, setting aside a few memorable ones, and burning the remainder. My whole life--well, much of it--passes before my eyes. Articles about Hetty Green, the Witch of Wall Street, about self-referential sentences ("This sentence ends abruptly"), about dollar-cost-averaging, about why blondes have more fun, about the next nuclear war (between India and Pakistan), about unusual houses--but mostly about investing. I'm happy to see that I've been consistent: Don't buy individual stocks, I was writing years and years ago.

A lot of what I wrote was ephemeral. This and that hot fund. Best money managers of the year. But I'm pleasantly surprised to see how lively and spirited my articles were. Good for you.

As a youngster, I thought I'd be the next Voltaire. But, as a psychiatrist once told me, we never make it as big as we had hoped. Or dreamed. I'm a bit proud to represent the modest cough of a conscientious financial writer.

In fact, I'm now writing a short ebook. Everything you need to know about investing.

Regrets: I didn't work abroad. I wasn't more adventuresome. I never wrote books I wanted to write--about rumors about the deaths of famous people, about Typhoid Mary, my own autobiography (it might surprise people).

But at 73 I can say: I'd give my life a B+. Especially considering my handicaps.

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