Forget Criss Angel–Mindfreak, here’s Richard Zowie–Penfreak

What term would best describe someone who’s passionate about pens and appreciates a good writing instrument?

Some might suggest penologist, but that’s actually already taken. It refers to someone who studies the impact incarceration has on inmates.

Let’s see…Criss Angel is called Mindfreak. Perhaps Richard Zowie should be called Penfreak.

Just a thought…

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Reading the Jesse Stone series

The books read very quickly, with lots of description of the New England landscape and weather. Jesse Stone, of course, is the laconic police chief of the fictitious Paradise, Mass. He has an on/off drinking problem and has an on-again, off-again relationship with his ex-wife. And between visits with his psychiatrist, Stone shows his brilliance at solving crimes.

It’s fun to read the novels and imagine myself as someone who says little but knows a great deal about what’s going on. This is the type of reading I do to keep myself reading to prepare for heavier reading or when passing the time while waiting for something to arrive through MelCat.

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When you don’t know what to write

Of the many projects I have going on, there’s a short story and novel I’m working on. No ego intended, but I think both can be very good.

Problem is, I don’t know what to write next.

With the short story, I’m trying to imagine what happens next and am having a hard time. With the novel, there’s an area of research I need to do. It involves two interviews.

Anyone else have this problem?

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Richard reviews Vladimir Sorokin’s ‘Day of the Oprichnik’

While perusing a monthly magazine of published novels, I read that retired Russian chess champion Garry Kasparov recommended Vladimir Sorokin’s Day of the Oprichnik. I like Kasparov, so that was good enough for me.

The novel, translated from the Russian (original title: День опричника), is about a day in the life of head oprichnik (a KGB-type agent who serves the Russian tsar) Andrei Danilovich Komiaga. We follow him around as he maintains order for the tsar. It’s set about 15 years in the future, and the tsars again rule Russia. Komiaga maintains order by murdering a treacherous noble, gang-raping the noble’s wife (we learn Komiaga has a foot fetish), and traveling around Russia to subdue uprisings and gather information. He also has to deal with a major scandal in the tsar’s family, and we learn Komiaga has the hots for one voluptuous member of the family (she is strictly off-limits). He and his fellow oprichniki indulge in activities strictly prohibited for normal Russian citizens. Then there’s a homosexual orgy near the end as they indulge on Viagra.

I suppose the drugs and weird sex are products of a very busy, stressful schedule that allows for little sleep.

Ray Bradbury famously said he wrote Fahrenheit 451 to prevent the future, and I wonder if Vladimir Sorokin wrote this novel as a way of reminding Russians what it would be like to be ruled by a tsar again. Terror, oppression. For many Russians who view their country objectively, there is little difference between the corruption of the tsars and corruption of the communists. The happy balance would be some sort of democracy, but of course, the situation is far more complicated.

I found this book to be fascinating, overall. It’s an introduction into Russian literature for me. I’d love to read the classics along with read Russian science fiction.

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Bids and other writing news

A friend and colleague has advised me not to obsess over clients who find my bids for writing projects too high. Charge what you think is fair, and if that’s not acceptable, move on, she told me.

After all, there’s only so far you can go until you enter glorified indentured servitude…

…I’m wishing now I lived in Texas so I could help one of my sisters with the paper she works at. One of her co-workers is going on vacation, so Sis will have to do a LOT of things by herself…

…Am trying to gather up some research and secure some itnerviews so I can further work on my novel. It involves something I know very little about.

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The joys of freelance writing

A friend referred me to a freelance writing website. One assignment already helped me in part to get my brakes repaired.

Still, there are growing pains.

I have learned that even when you lower your bid to about half of what the person lists as their maximum amount, they may still decline your bid as too high. Perhaps it’s in how the bid is worded, or perhaps the person doesn’t grasp that when it comes to professional writing, they will get what they pay for.

Here’s an example: I just paid $205 to have my brakes replaced (calipers, rotors, brake pads). I had been leaking brake fluid, which is a sign that the brakes need to be replaced NOW. I wonder what would’ve happened if I’d told the mechanic I’d be willing to pay him $20 for the job? My guess is he would’ve looked at me, blankly, waiting for the punchline. And when it didn’t arrive, explain to me that if I want to pay $20 for the job, then I should trust the job to someone who has no idea what they’re doing.

So, you press on and keep bidding.

Post comments here or e-mail them to Contact Richard if you need freelance writing work done.