I Didn’t Always Write Fiction

G. Washington Article An Article Written for the December 1983 Issue of “GM Today” © R.L. Herron

The headline of today’s entry is somewhat misleading. I’ve actually written fiction (and poetry) since I was seventeen. Most of it, with the exception of a couple of short stories and some poems, never saw the light of day in any publication.

In fact, most of it never even garnered a rejection slip.

Just like with today’s wannabe authors, rejections were not acknowledged … they were ignored. Somewhere, in a dusty brown cardboard box in the dim recesses of the basement, I’m sure I still have copies of most of the ones I did get. Sad, yellow-brown pages brittle now with age.

There were a few mimeographed (read xeroxed, for those too young to remember mimeos) and unsigned rejection letters, but those were infrequent and have long since been tossed into the same abyss my original submissions went into.

However, I did write and publish:

    The cold darkness was broken only by the sound of cargo boats being poled across an icy river. Desperation was written plainly in the faces of the men sitting in the boats. A young general stood in the lead boat staring ahead into darkness.

    Suddenly, there was a flash from shore. The entire group slumped. Instantly the shoreline came alive, not with cannon fire, but with conversation and activity.

    “Cut! Let’s do it again; and tell those people not to use flashbulbs again while we’re filming!”

The date was November 21, 1983. The scene was the re-creation of George Washington and 2,400 of his troops crossing the Delaware River on Christmas Eve 1777 on their way to attack the Hessian garrison at Trenton.

The original action was one of the first important victories for the Continental Army during the American Revolution. The re-creation is also a first for General Motors.

I found this example of one of my articles, published in the December 1983 issue of “GM Today” … an internal monthly newsletter distributed to all GM employees. The print run, at the time, was over 800,000, quite a respectable distribution. I remember this article very well.

The editor didn’t like it at all.

He’d sent me to cover a portion of the filming of the GM-sponsored made-for-television mini-series about the life of the young George Washington, starring Barry Bostwick and Patty Duke. I met and interviewed them both … and the director, Richard Fielder, on location at the filming of the re-creation of Washington’s historic crossing.

From his comments when I returned, my editor thought the article was too story-like and not the nuts-and-bolts information he wanted. Thankfully, the PR Vice President had seen … and liked … my article or it would have found its way into the waste receptacle, too.

Is the world today better simply because the article ran almost exactly as I wrote it?

Probably not. But my memory of it is.

“Reichold Street” a book trailer video © R.L. Herron


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One Response to “I Didn’t Always Write Fiction”

  1. Are You Writing Because You Like It? | Painting With Light Says:

    […] I was allowed to write an article for the paper. When I did, I wove storytelling elements into it. My editor didn’t care for […]


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