I’ve been writing a few diary excerpts from old diaries I recently found. I thought I’d copy one here from the summer of 1991. I had moved from Knoxville to Phoenix during the Bush 1 recession and I couldn’t get a job. After getting kicked out of where I had been staying and literally relying on my car for living a little while, I eventually rented a room in a dump in Tempe before getting a horrible job in downtown Phoenix, where I then moved to be close to work. I worked from 6 AM to 6 PM six days a week plus one Sunday. That’s roughly 28 days a month. It was grueling. And I was getting up early and going to bed late to be a writer, writing feverishly for hours every day and then submitting stuff to mags and publishers. I don’t know how I made it. Anyway, here’s this entry:
June 3, 1991
Long day at work today. Like always. When I got home, Knoxville Ami called me and we talked for awhile. I miss her. I wish I could hang out with her for a few days. I miss Robert too. We were quite the trio.
I got up this morning at 4 AM to try and get some writing done. I’ve been researching what pays because I’m sick of being dirt poor, living in a roach infested apartment in gangville Phoenix. Mags like Esquire pay, but they generally only accept about one unsolicited submission a year. Porn pays. Smut mags like Oui, Chic, Swank all pay $100-$400 a story. Hustler pays $500. Two of those a month and I’m doing a lot better. I got three pages done this morning. I have a lot of interesting experiences to draw from….
I really feel like my life, and life in general, is one big waste. I sit here every night writing and waiting for time to pass so I can go to sleep to get some rest so I can get up in the morning and do menial work simply so I can come home in a robotic state of making the hours pass so I can go to sleep again and escape, only to get up the next morning and start the same fucking grind all over again. No one seems to understand this nightmare — not even my closest friends. They tell me it’s a phase, a learning experience. I think “stagnation” would be an understatement. Brain and body rot is more like it…. I spend every day looking forward to my mail cause I have nothing else to look forward to in life. No money! No future! Nothing. Maybe I’ll get an acceptance from a magazine. It’s happening more frequently, but poetry doesn’t pay rent. Who am I kidding? Writer. Shit!
Working 12 hour days 6 days a week for shit pay really wore me down. And my 2-5 hours of writing and submitting to magazines each day further wore me down, although sometimes I think it was also the only thing that saved me. I lasted in that environment two years before moving over to L.A. to go back to school.