A day in the life of Richard Zowie, writer or: One Day in the Life of Richard Richardovich

I couldn’t resist paying homage to the late Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn by naming this blog posting the way he did his book One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (Russian: Odin Dyen’ Ivana Denisovicha). No, I’m not in a Russian gulag, although in the winter here in Michigan it might seem that way.

My middle name is actually Paul, but in Russian the middle name is actually the patronymic, meaning a name that identifies your lineage. Richardovich simply means “Son of Richard” since my Dad’s name is Richard. Dad, whose own father went by Paul, would be Richard Pavlovich (the Russians transliterate Paul as Pavel).

The one or two readers of this blog might wonder a writer like me does on a daily basis. Since Monday’s the day I complete my assignments for the week, I thought I’d take you through a typical Monday:

7:30 a.m. — I wake up and thank the person who designed cell phones to have alarm clocks in them. I try to avoid hitting the snooze button. Shower, something to eat, quick check of e-mail and reminding myself of what I have to do this day.

8:15 a.m. — I drive to work and try to keep observant of what’s said on the radio and what I see as I drive into the coverage area of the paper where I work, the Mt. Morris/Clio Birch Run/Bridgeport Herald.

9 a.m. — I arrive at work, pick up any messages left for me, drop off my time card and my mileage sheet to my publisher’s wife (Lisa) and, again, check my e-mail.

9:15 a.m. — Time to get together with my editor (Craig) and co-worker (Mandi) for a meeting to discuss what we have for the paper that week. This includes what is finished and what we’re still working on.

9:25 a.m. – 5 p.m. — My tasks include but are not limited to: finishing writing stories, proofreading them, making changes as necessary and then e-mailing them to my editor; taking photos and editing out the bad ones. I gather up my photos for the week onto a jump drive and deliver them to my editor. I write cutlines for all the photos. If I submit a set of photos from an event, I make sure it’s accompanied by a short story. Sometimes I may have to go out and take more pictures or gather information for another story. I try to make sure the photos I submit are whittled down to the absolute best of the best. If I take 50 pictures of an event, my job is to submit no more than 10 photos (preferably five) to my editor since it takes time to sift through the photos.

The stories and cutlines and word documents are e-mailed to my editor while, again, the photos go on the jump drive.

Any further unfinished stories, cutlines or other items go home as “homework.” During the busy traffic of the high school sports season (especially during basketball/baseball/track in the spring), I usually don’t get to bed until past midnight.

6 p.m. — I get home, eat dinner, find out how everyone’s day went and–yep, you guessed it–check e-mail.

7 p.m. — I start brainstorming for next week’s issue and then update my blogs. I also piddle around on Facebook (a great way to promote my blogs). Other writing projects (journals, fiction, essays) also get done, along with answering e-mails and looking for off-duty freelance work (writing work I do at home on my own time).

9 p.m. — I watch something on television or watch a movie I rented from Netflix. Favorite shows currently are Hell’s Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares, The Middle.

11 p.m. — Bed. (Earlier, if possible, if I have to go to work at the gas station the next morning and have a 5 a.m. wake up).

Richard Zowie tries to stay busy in his writing life and believes it’s far better to be busy than unemployed. Post comments here or e-mail him at richardzowie@gmail.com.

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Dealling with ‘The Wildie Syndrome’

Years ago, I was assigned to write a story about a man who’d developed a device that would collect recycled oil and store it, saving local people from having to make a trip to an auto parts store. The article must be no more than 700 words, the editor told me.

So I went and interviewed the guy, five or so questions at hand and explained to him that all I needed were basic answers. We were doing a short article, so we would not be able to run anything more than just the basics.

The man proceeded to talk for about an hour.

His surname was Wildie, and in the other two times I interviewed him, the same thing happened: I’d explain to him about how we had only enough room for the basics. He’d then go on to ramble for an hour or so. The final time I spoke with him, my editor told me not to take too long.

“You do realize whom I’ll be speaking to, right?” I asked. “Even if I try to nudge him forward, he’ll go back and talk on and on and on.”

Occasionally, I still have interview subjects like this. When it happens, I call it “The Wildie Syndrome”.

I’m curious if any other writers have had to deal with this also. One assistant editor I worked with spent three hours doing an interview with a bloviating man, and spent the entire next day just transcribing it with a dictionary at hand…

Richard Zowie is a Michigan-based journalist, columnist, blogger and aspiring fiction writer. Post comments here or e-mail him at richardzowie@gmail.com.

My Writer’s Digest subscription has been renewed!

Jane Friedman

A very special, grateful, humble “Thank you” goes to Jane Friedman, the publisher of Writer’s Digest. After reading my earlier blog post about how I wasn’t able at this time to renew my subscription to her magazine, she then e-mailed me and offered me a complimentary, one-year subscription renewal!

This generosity was very unexpected (I’d actually made my posting more to chronicle what’s going on in my writing life) but is very appreciated.

Again, thank you for your nice gift, Ms. Friedman! I think of it as a birthday present (I’ll turn 37 in February). What I will probably do is take the tax return money I’d planned to use to renew my subscription to instead upgrade to the VIP program.

Richard Zowie has been a professional writer since 2000. He’s been a journalist, columnist, blogger, copy writer and even fiction writer. Post comments below or e-mail richardzowie@gmail.com.