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 richardzowie@gmail.com. Contact Richard if you need freelance writing work done.

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Day off? What’s that?

Since about December 15, I think I’ve had maybe three days off. Christmas Day, St. Patrick’s Day and, well, some other day I can’t seem to remember.

Last night, I went to bed at about 10 p.m. and woke up at 10 a.m. Catching up on sleep.

I had intended to do absolutely nothing today except some chores, take a walk and go to the library and do some writing. But, on my cell phone there was notification from a school principal of a special event going on at their school.

So, I hopped into my car and covered it. Took lots of pics and interviewed two people.

Then, after that, up to a library to get pictures of a teacher and artist autographing a book they had worked on.

Tomorrow, I will be getting pictures of athletes who made All-Conference teams. Later that afternoon, I will treat myself and go to a matinee showing of Prometheus.

It’s all appreciated greatly, since it means work and since with my editor being on vacation this week, it’s good to go out and get lots of pictures and stories for the newspaper. It is always better to have too many pictures and stories than not enough.

And then, when not writing for the paper, there’s also blogging, writing fiction and journaling. So, in essence, there probably is (or shouldn’t be) no such thing as a real day off for a writer. A writer writes every day. And to quote that one film Throw Mama From The Train, a writer writes always.

Post comments here or e-mail them to richardzowie@gmail.com.

What are YOUR day jobs, fellow writers?

For 11 years I have been a professional writer. I have one published short story to my credit along with countless news and feature stories and columns. Lots of sports, also. Once I even ghostwrote a column for a brigadier general. And then there are the finished-but-unpublished short stories sleeping on my hard drive, along with two novels I’m working on.

Last, but not least, my blogs.

My dream is to be a full-time fiction writer.

Like many writers out there, I can’t support myself and my kids on what I earn as a writer. So, I have day jobs.

Thirty hours a week I work at a weekly newspaper. Sometimes it feels more like 40, but I love this job immensely. Getting paid to write–how great is that?

Twenty-four hours a week (although, this week it will be 32), I work at a gas station. It also feels like I put more hours there, but whatever my unsaid opinion might be, I really can’t complain: this job pays my electric bill, auto insurance bill, internet bill, cell phone bill, and many other things.

Those are my two day jobs, and I’ve had others: (briefly) a factory worker, a bagel maker, a broadcaster, a telemarketer and a cashier.

I remember one novelist, who worked as a waitress, was asked what motivated her to write: “Because I absolutely hated my day job,” she replied.

So, fellow writers, what are YOUR day jobs?

Richard Zowie has been writing professionally since 2000. Post comments here or e-mail him at richardzowie@gmail.com.

Back in the saddle, so to speak

It’s been far too long since the last time I blogged. My apologies. For the past few months I’ve been too worn out physically and mentally to blog.

Bad excuse?

Yep.

Despite what has gone in my life (work, work, trying to get cleaned up around the house, dealing with issues in my personal life), writing is something that still needs to be done. Writers write. Sometimes writing is done to earn a living (what I do 30 hours a week) and sometimes writing is done for fun, but it needs to be done to stay in shape and stay focused.

Tonight, when I get home from work, I think I will even have to do some fiction writing to get back in the swing of things.

And, yes, when I’m done, I’ll blog about it.

Post comments here or e-mail Richard at richardzowie@gmail.com.

Visit to the library today, will write fiction soon

I checked out Julie Powell’s book Julie & Julia. Am also current reading President George W. Bush’s Decision Points and am about halfway through it. Also placed an order at the library for Julia Child’s book My Life in France.

Came very close to checking out a book on my current reading list: Karen Robards’ Shattered. I love what I have read about this book, but a very quick skim reveals it looks like it might be along the lines of a trashy romance novel. Will try it out in a week or so to see how it works. Besides, I’m curious to see if there is a way to write love scenes in a tasteful way or if I should give only what is absolutely necessary for the plot. I wonder because one current project includes a man snared into a trap through the oldest trick in the book–a voluptuous woman who happens to be his type; he has gone without female companionship for some time and foolishly gives in.

So much reading and writing to do…

Richard Zowie is a writer who knows you have to read a lot to develop into a good writer. Post comments here or e-mail them to richardzowie@gmail.com.

So, now I have my daily writer’s list…

I compiled it last night at work using my trusty slightly-larger-than-reporter-size notebook (my favorite kind–a firm cardboard back with a transparent plastic cover) and a Papermate Design pen. Ten items I intend to start tackling on a daily basis as a writer:

1) 2,000 words written on my novel(s)

2) 2,000 words written on my short story(ies)

3) Update my blogs (this one, From A to Zowie, Richard’s Two Shekels and Ponderings From Pluto); at the very least, this one and the Shekels one daily

4) Journal entry (at the end of the day)

5) 1-2 essays

6) Look for freelance writing work

7) Work on a screenplay

8 ) Read both fiction and non-fiction

9) Market my fiction

10) Write a poem or two if the mood strikes

A long list? Perhaps, but I need to be accomplishing these things on a daily basis. With sufficient time management, it can be done.

Richard Zowie is a writer who is working to get off his lazy butt. Post comments here or e-mail them to richardzowie@gmail.com.

At the Frankenmuth Wickson District Library

FRANKENMUTH, MICH. — Just finished my newspaper work for the day. Tomorrow evening I will call some coaches about their teams and see if I can track down two kids who placed very high in the Genesee County spelling bee.

If you’re a writer, you probably are like me and love to write at libraries. Even in the absence of stern, Nun-style librarians who demand a library be as quiet as the vacuum of outer space, it is still a very tranquil place to be. Much easier to concentrate. You can type at a computer (such as what I am doing) or sit at a table with pen and paper.

Even now, a man is speaking on his cell phone in a slavic language. It’s not Russian, but sounds very similar. Bulgarian? Croatian? Possibly Polish? Russians are like Americans: they come in all different types of physical appearances (short, tall, skinny, heavy, dark hair, blonde, brown eyes, blue eyes, fair skin, dark skin). I don’t mind his banter at all.

Ahhhhhh.

I do hope I can get my laptop fixed so I can return to more writing freedom at home.

This library has one of two writers magazines that I love to read regularly. This leads me to a question: is it really worth it to buy that magazine or should I just spend an hour a month at the library reading it and taking notes? I will have to keep an even closer eye on my finances and eliminate wasteful spending…perhaps I should do this until I can assure myself I have the budget to afford the magazine.

Richard Zowie is a writer. Post comments here or e-mail them to richardzowie@gmail.com.

What I’ve been up to as a writer (besides 5’8″)

…Today, while on lunch break, I resisted the urge to buy another pen–for now. It was a Zebra with a stainless steel barrel and a rubber grip. But it was fine p0int–which I’ve never liked.

I wish they had a “test drive” option where you could try out a pen before buying so that you don’t have to worry about getting into your vehicle, ripping the package open and then almost immediately getting Buyer’s Remorse. Oh well…

…I’m having to type this from another bedroom in my house since my laptop is doing something strange. Don’t have the money to get it repaired. I hope that will change in a few weeks.

As I look at my blog, I find myself hoping the day will come when I can buy a website or upgrade to a higher version of WordPress so I can design this blog to my specifications. Yes, I like to mix things up, but I often find one frustrating thing about WordPress’ formats: there is always one slight thing about it that ruins what otherwise is a beautiful look…

…This weekend I work to balance out my gasoline job with my writing jobs. By Monday night I’ll probably be very tired.

Richard Zowie is a writer–or so he says. We are actively investigating him and expect to post our findings very soon. Post comments here or e-mail them to richardzowie@gmail.com.

Shaking the rust off my muse

About a year ago in The Writer magazine, they reprinted an excellent old essay by Lois Duncan (who wrote Summer of Fear and I Know What You Did Last Summer) about writer’s block. I e-mailed Ms. Duncan about it and she was kind enough to respond.

As I ponder what she wrote, I think about what I’d like to accomplish as a writer: each day writing 2,000 words on on my novel, short stories, writing an essay or two, doing a journal entry, a few poems and updating my blogs.

It really boils down to writing. No excuses. No recreational activities until you write.

Simple, isn’t it?

On Friday I work at the newspaper, but I’ll see if in my spare time I can accomplish this. I’m having to share a computer since my laptop isn’t working properly, so we’ll see.

Richard Zowie is a writer. Post comments here or e-mail them to richardzowie@gmail.com.

Cutting back on my writer’s budget

Soon I will be getting a divorce and my soon-to-be-ex-wife will live in a city a county away. We will share custody of our sons.

I have been thinking of ways to save money and see one answer on my writer’s budget.

The theme: Less is More.

I subscribe to two writer’s magazines. One is available at the Frankenmuth, Michigan library nearby and one at the Millington library nearby. Stuck in my book bag, it is far too easy to tuck them away and forget about them. But if I read them at the library, I make use of my time and read them and–best of all–it costs me nothing.

Good way to save a combined $50-ish a year.

As far as pens go, I will have to confine myself to what is needed. That might be a little more tricky.

Richard Zowie is a writer who sees the world differently. Post comments here or e-mail him at richardzowie@gmail.com.