Monday, May 30, 2011

Dale T. Phillips

Diary of an At Home Writer
Non-fiction by Dale T. Phillips

6:00- Awake

7:38- Morning ablutions done, kids off to school. Sit down to computer in basement office. Boot up, check email. No news from agent on submitted novel.

7:50- Reread yesterday’s writing, all four paragraphs. Realize yesterday’s writing all worthless, start over.

8:04- Almost getting good third rewrite of first sentence. Comes to a screeching halt when wife, carrying laundry, passes through basement office to son’s finished bedroom. “Just go on, don’t mind me.”

8:09- Back to work, trying to recapture lost thread of thought on sentence restructuring.

8:16- Sentence redone and acceptable for first draft. Second sentence begun.

8:22- Wife calls down reminder of school meeting on following evening.

8:25- Finished with thoughts of divorce, return to sentence #2.

8:37- Marginally acceptable second sentence completed.

8:42- Wife calls down to say she is going to the store- NO, nothing is needed. Except a lack of interruptions.

8:51- Phone rings, making dog bark. NO, do not want to answer poll.

8:55- Bathroom break. Notice home project needing immediate attention. Ignore it for now, as good writer should.

9:01- Back at computer, tackling sentence #3.

9:07- Phone rings, making dog bark. Daughter forgot flute, needed for next period. Take flute to school. Needle on E, yellow light on. Stop for gas.

9:55- Back at computer, tackling sentence #3. Again.

10:01- Sentence three crystallizing in thoughts, shattered by doorbell. Dog going crazy barking. Sign for package.

10:12- Am going to finish sentence #3 if it kills. No matter who it kills.

10:17- Phone rings. Scream gibberish to assistant from dental office reminding of upcoming appointment.

10:20- Calm breathing, return to writing.

10:27- Wife returns, calls down that she’s home. Dog barks again.

10:30- Feeling like Jack Nicholson in The Shining, return to sentence #3.

10:48- On to sentence #4. Wife comes down to pantry for can of soup. Asks about lunch choices.

10:54- Once more into the breach.

11:07- Call from writer friend, asking how writing is going. Venting begins.

11:29- End call, back to writing.

11:44- First paragraph complete.

11:55- Wife calls down that lunch is ready.

12:21- Back at computer, check email. Latest story has been rejected by 18th magazine. Editors recommend buying subscription anyway, as have previous 17.

12:24- In severe pain from having kicked something which turned out to be harder than it looked. Foot may be broken.

12:28- Begin search for next market for rejected story. Cannot let them sit and gather cobwebs.

1:02- New market found, fresh hardcopy printed to specifics, cover letter carefully crafted, mailer addressed, SASE enclosed. On pile on stairs to go to Post Office.

1:05- Bathroom break.

1:10- Tackling second paragraph.

1:22- Wife down for stamps. Dinner options reviewed.

1:31- Back into second paragraph, third sentence.

1:40- Dog coughs, throws up. On pile for Post Office.

2:05- Mess cleaned up, new submission packet ready. Carefully placed away from surface dog can reach.

2:08- Back to writing. Thread of passage lost.

2:14- Yawning uncontrollably, unable to stay awake. Jump on exercise bike for half hour. Of course, no interruptions occur at this time. Plot line worked out in head.

2:47- Upstairs to shower. More story developments come to mind.

3:03- Back at computer, fingers flying.

3:05- Kids home from school. Son needs computer for school essay due tomorrow.

3:12- In upstairs bathroom with yellow legal pad and tiny unsharpened golf-course pencil, scribbling hurriedly as beautifully thought-out prose dissolves like Coleridge’s Xanadu dream.

3:26- Knock on door, son says dog is coughing again. Offer to shoot *%#@ dog.

3:28- Wife knocks, asks if anything wrong. Spew more obscenities, but quietly.

3:40- Daughter knocks on door, asks for help with math homework. Sit with her to discover you remember nothing of Venn diagrams and null sets.

4:02- Back in bathroom. Slow but constant drip from faucet is like water torture.

4:14- Pencil breaks, unable to sharpen. Wife's leg razor ruined. Wonder if blood will suffice for ink.

4:27- Frantic search for usable writing implement yields dog-chewed pen under bed, which sometimes works okay if you shake it and press down hard enough to tear paper.

4:44- Daughter knocks, asks meaning of ‘obtrusion’.

5:07- One crumpled, torn, illegible sheet of prose completed.

5:15- Son knocks on door with reminder of basketball practice after dinner.

5:23- Wife calls for dinner.

5:55- Drive son to basketball practice.

6:09- With new pen, begin writing while sitting in bleacher at school gym.

6:13- Other parent asks, “Whatcha writin?”

6:14- Other parent shocked at response, moves off to finds new seat.

6:21- Loose ball knocks pen, pad from hands. Pen rolls under bleachers.

6:23- Cackling like crazy cat lady, produce backup pen.

6:24- Backup pen out of ink. Begin sobbing.

6:25- More parents move away.

7:00- Practice ends, race home, run to computer.

7:04- Feverishly attempting to transcribe hieroglyphs from legal pad. Wonder what ‘see hdvufj’ means.

7:30- Page done. Attempt to print. Printer cartridge out. More sobbing.

7:35- Mail from magazine publisher. Story written seven years ago and submitted nine months previously to be published in upcoming 2012 issue, circulation of 50. Payment of five-dollar bill to be on publication.

7:44- Celebratory bottle of eight-dollar wine opened. Toast made to success.

7:50- Back at computer with wineglass #3.

8:15- Accidentally close document without saving, losing last twenty-five minutes of work.

9:00- Page painfully retyped, as hand now sore from pounding on desk. Completed.

9:05- Gaze once again at acceptance letter from magazine.

10:00- Walk dog, taking in night air.

10:05- Pick up doggie doo, trying not to see metaphor for life.

10:15- Turn in, reflecting on glory of writing life, and one day closer to publishing Great American Novel. 


  1. Okay, where is the camera hidden?
    You have clearly been eavesdropping on my life, and it is most definitely not funny.

    Okay, actually it was very funny. Thankyou, Dale for the reminder that I am not the only masochistic fool on this planet.

    --Stone Showers

  2. A writer friend forwarded this to me. She is an excellent Writer; if your other stuff is as good as this submission, you too are an excellent Writer. But the heartbreak and frustration of rejection ( and cost of postage) make me sooooo happy I'm a Reader! This funny/sad tale made me a laughing Reader!
    Thanks for sharing your pain!