Donnie Dale is dying… and still writing…

Eschscholzia californica
Eschscholzia californica (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What would you do if you discovered you were dying? If you received a diagnosis of terminal cancer with an estimated two years to live, give or take six months?

What would you do with the time you had left?

A man I know named Donnie Dale is in that position. He’s a man who’s been a writer all his life. He made his living at it – not with fiction, but with magazine articles, mostly. That was his day job. On the side, though, he’s also been writing fiction all his life – novels and screenplays. He’s got a trunk-full of manuscripts. He had one novel published twenty years ago. He did it, I assume, the “traditional” way – which is what I call the “hard” way – but I guess he never struck that luck again.

Faced with limited time remaining, Donnie has set himself a goal.  His goal is to self-publish all those unpublished novels. He has a website set up for the purpose – for his “platform.” It’s at

And he’s still writing. He’s started a blog on his website and is posting his thoughts on whatever comes to mind, because he’s a writer and writers don’t stop writing for trivial reasons like impending death. His posts are well worth reading. He says he’s not afraid to die, and you can tell he isn’t lying about that. There’s nothing maudlin in what he has to say. He writes with honesty and with clarity (and artistry), and with pretty darn good grammar and punctuation, too. If you’re building your mental model of what good writing looks like, you could do a lot worse than run Donnie’s postings across your synapses.

I encourage you to visit Donnie’s website and spend some time there. Leave a comment so he’ll know you’ve been. We who blog have all had that sense of, “okay, I’m putting it out there; is anybody reading it?” More than anything else, writers desire to be read, and for Donnie the question takes on an added urgency. So please go: Read some of his posts, follow his self-publication odyssey, maybe watch for his books and give them a read. I think you’ll get something from the experience, and not just the warm fuzzy feeling of having helped a life-long writer achieve one final goal.

I met Donnie Dale because, until this week, he has been leading the joint meetings of the Alameda Writer’s Group and the Altadena satellite of the Independent Writers of Southern California, which meets at the Coffee Gallery on Lake Ave in Altadena on the 2nd Friday of every month.


  • Carrie Rubin

    August 10, 2012 at 4:10 pm Reply

    Wow. If that doesn’t motivate the rest of us to get out there and write, I don’t know what will. Thanks for sharing his sad but inspiring story.

    • Carol Wuenschell

      August 10, 2012 at 11:57 pm Reply

      Yeah… When I think about it, I’ve wasted so much time, always assuming there will be more.

  • kindredspirit23

    August 10, 2012 at 11:22 pm Reply

    I could not get your donniedale link to work above.
    Said bad link – not found or something like that.

    • Carol Wuenschell

      August 10, 2012 at 11:58 pm Reply

      Thanks for letting me know, Scott. I’ll have to see if I can figure out what’s wrong… Ah, there, i fixed it. It needed http:// in front of it.

      • kindredspirit23

        August 11, 2012 at 12:04 am Reply

        I just typed it in and that worked. What the link said was it was pointing to a different spot.

      • kindredspirit23

        August 11, 2012 at 1:02 pm Reply

        I make that mistake as well often.

  • 4amWriter

    August 12, 2012 at 1:45 pm Reply

    Wow. I really was moved by this. I will certainly visit Donnie’s blog. I am sure if there is any place to find inspiration, his would be the place. Thanks for pointing us in his direction.

Post a Comment