Phil Cobb, Author

Fun, Follies and Loss of Innocence in Novel Land

I’ll tell you a story

Have you ever been super excited to work on an idea or project?

I feel the same way now that I’m writing a novel.

But this is my second shot at novel writing.

What happened that first time? Plenty. See “I Get Run Off the Ranch”.

Or, find out what happened when I tried to help a bully as the Book Whisperer.

I try to help a bully

1959 elementary classroom

This wasn’t my classroom, but it takes me back to that day

 Do you ever wonder about somebody from back in your school days . . .  and how they turned out?

I do.

Probably the one I’ve wondered about the most is Bub. A bully.

Why?

Because of what somebody said about him.

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I become a crawling thing

Boxer knocked down, being counted out

I tried to do it all . . . and went down for the count

If you read the post A Spy Gets Me In From The Cold, you know I badgered my way onto a daily newspaper.

Finally, I had a steady income, and I got on-the-job training in being a copy editor.

Unfortunately, it all came to an end.

What’s that you ask?

Oh, not the newspapering.

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A spy gets me in from the cold

Boss yelling at an employee

The copy desk chief was really excited about my ability to edit news stories

If you remember from I’m Tagged as a Misfit, I needed money but I was striking out in finding a job.

In my interviews, I showed up overdressed, got pegged as a troublemaker, and channeled the Cheshire Cat.

Afterward, I sat at home lamenting the year I spent writing The Not-So-Great American Novel only to follow it with Western schlock that got whipped out of town by a New York City publisher.

Great. No book. No job. No money.

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I’m tagged as a misfit

Unnerved man at desk

When my year of novel writing flopped, I forced myself to enter the work force

If you tuned in to my prior post — A Flying Saucer Lands on Me — you know that my lifetime goal was to stay in my cheap apartment writing in my underwear.

To continue that wonderful lifestyle, I was counting on a quickie Western book to lasso me out of a deepening financial hole.

But when I tossed my manuscript over the transom of a New York publishing company, they heaved it back like a sack of mealy flour.

There was no more pretending to be a starving writer when the fiction might come true.

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A flying saucer lands on me

Man staring up at a landing UFO

How did my Old West saga turn into a space opera?

My previous post — I Give Birth to a Baby — told how I came up with a desperate ploy to get cash from a publisher so I could keep writing full-time.

I settled on churning out a western because I knew all about the Old West from watching cowboy shows on television.

Thanks to blessed inspiration and being kicked in the ass by desperation, I had the manuscript ready to go in a month.

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I give birth to a baby

Writer deep in thought

A desperate time calls for a desperate solution

If you read A Sharp Poke in the Eye, you know that I wound up in a sorry state after struggling to write great literature.

The $1,800 bankroll I had been living on for one year was collapsing like a bad lung.

This is when you are faced with two awful impending realities: eviction  . . . or . . . getting a real job.

What would you do? Apply for a job?

Uh, not me.

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A sharp poke in the eye

Plaster patch on eye wound

Here’s what happened when I took on the meaning of life

As detailed in “I Get Run Off the Ranch,” finding a stable place to write was becoming a real chore, particularly when your own relatives kick you off their place.

To preserve your bankroll, you find yourself scouting out trailer parks and cramped attic dwellings as well as sketchy roommate ads.

When you’re told the rent will be figured out after you move in, you get a gut feeling that more than dollar bills will be involved. No, thanks.

Just as it looked like I might have to use PLAN B — the back seat of my car — I found an apartment with a Murphy bed.

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I get run off the ranch

Tumbleweed on a road

Devotion to writing can turn you into a tumbleweed, but with mind-reading power

If you read my first blog post, “How I Killed My Birthday Party,” you know how I busted up that birthday party by reading before I could read.

After that, like you, I went to school and learned to actually read words. From then on, I always had to have a book to read.

Surely with that background, I would be a writer someday, not just a reader.

But have you ever attempted to do something great

 . . . and it turns out . . .

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How I killed my birthday party

Stack of comic books

My guests were pissed, hopping from foot to foot in exasperation.

Let’s head back in time to attend a formative literary event in the annals of writing.

It was a birthday party for me, but whether I actually “attended” it is up for debate. You see, I was three years old.

It’s not that I didn’t understand the concept of a birthday party at that age . . . believe me, I was all for it.

So, there I was, seated on a chair. Whatever preceded my sitting down, I don’t recall, nor do I remember what followed after I got . . . The Best Present of All Time.

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