When I was in college, 8 years ago at this point (goddamn), I drew a lot of comics. I even had a comic zine called Very Tiny Creatures in which I mainly drew anthropomorphic characters dealing with death and insecurities (I have the flats from this zine which, who knows, maybe I’ll scan someday).
I was never very good at drawing myself, but then I saw Not Your Mother’s Meatloaf call for submissions in 2008 and decided to take a stab at it. I hadn’t drawn comics in a few years, but I had experienced a lot of weird and funny and embarassing sex at that point, so I figured I might as well turn one of those moments into something more.
A year ago, I recieved an email from the editors, Liza and Saiya, asking if I wanted my comic included in the book that was being published by Soft Skull Press. Of course, yes, I said, and forgot about it until recently.
I saw the book at Chicago Zine Fest in March and there it was, my comic about my earliest sexual experience in high school staring back at me. It felt good, but also strange considering I haven’t drawn a comic in over six years.
This book is amazing. The comics are funny, sad, honest, but always real and, as a whole, definetely important in it’s recognizing of the necessity of comprehensive openness in sexual education. Go on and check it out here!
Last week at LAVA Space in West Philly, I played a solo set (with a project I have yet to name) with Trophy Wife, Ragana, Margy Pepper, and Bike Crash. All the bands were loud and strong and incredible, and for the first time, maybe ever, that’s how I felt about my solo set, too.
I spent a really long time telling myself that playing solo, or rather, wanting to play my own songs with other people, was a selfish act. I felt that I shouldn’t expect others to want to play the songs I wrote and that by not working completely collectively, I was doing something wrong. Of course, this just isn’t true, but this is how I was raised and so what I believed. I played in Very Okay in which I wrote most of the songs, but I always felt a strong sense of uncomfortable mobility, due to my own self-consciousnesses of being a mid-twenty-something. Now, about to turn 30 in a month, this guilt and fear that often pervades many aspects of my life is dissipating, and I am finally ready to do things my way.
I play guitar in Radiator Hospital in which Sam is the sole song writer and main force, and I love playing in that band. Sam is amazing. He shows us the songs, which are always rockers, and lets us write our own parts. We are still contributing, and that’s what makes it so fun. This is the way to do it. This is the way a lot of my friends do it, and yet and I never once thought they were being selfish. It only applied to me.
Heavy Bangs broke up recently because two of our members are moving to the West Coast for school and work. It made me sad, of course, because I loved where that band was going musically, but I am excited to have the opportunity to push myself forward onto the next thing. If I don’t write and record these songs, no one else will.
Next step: find folks to play with. Or not. Just keep going.
Come on out to the Soapbox in good old West Philadelphia to hear Cynthia Ann Schemmer read from the newest issue of her zine Secret Bully, a personal, creative nonfiction zine. In Secret Bully #2, she writes about using nature and animals to help figure things out in this wild thing called life. The three pieces in this issue address different relationships that have dissipated, and how nature helped her realize the things she did and did not deserve.
There will be wine and snacks and she will be joined by these very excellent writers:
KATIE HAEGELE is a freelance writer and longtime zine maker. She most enjoys writing about about language, feminism, clothing, and books. (www.thelalatheory.com).
SARAH SAWYERS-LOVETT was born in Tazewell, Virginia. She isn’t offended if you haven’t heard of it. Everybody Else’s Girl is Sarah’s first long-form memoir. She lives in Philadelphia with her wife and their hedgehog, where she makes balloon animals for money. Sarah enjoys pickles, punks and coffee. She writes zines and blogs and you can find more of her work at www.punkjoanofarc.com.
LAURA REEVE lives in West Philadelphia with five humans, three cats, and one dog. She also writes weird short stories. In January, she wrote one story every day. You can read them online or in the zine she just put out, “An Introduction to Eating Your Heart Out: 31 stories in 31 days.” (www.inhalves.tumblr.com)
CYNTHIA ANN SCHEMMER is a writer, musician, and true bull taurus living in West Philadelphia. You can check out the things she does over at her website. (www.cynthiaschemmer.com).
My new zine, Secret Bully #2, is now available in my new webstore, Hunt & Moon, along with other prints and zines!
(I decided to give “these things I do” a name - Hunt & Moon - which is what my name means, being the epitet of the Roman goddess Diana. Just trying to live the goddess life over here.)
Secret Bully #2 is about using nature and animals to help figure things out in this wild thing called life. The creative nonfiction essays in this issue are about three different relationships that have dissipated, and how nature helped me realize the things I did and did not deserve.
I had such a blast this weekend. The Chicago Zine Fest was something I needed to soothe myself mentally and creatively. I think, as a writer, it’s very easy to get into your own head and ignore the reality that’s spinning around you. What I mean is this: I’ve been making zines since 2003 and only in 2013 did I finally begin to see myself as someone worthy of tabling. Isn’t that strange? I’m turning 30 this year and it took me that long to overcome my feelings regarding my work in zine format.
I’ve known I’ve wanted to be a writer since second grade, and I’ve always felt 100% about submitting my work to literary journals and such, but for some reason the idea of tabling at a zine fest never occurred to me. Or rather, it did but I felt too scared (which is ridiculous because the zine community is so very supportive). I think this is partially due to the fact that my writing is very much of the literary world and I kept that world very separate from my punk community. I think the reason for that is because in punk, music is the main source of creativity; it appears to be much more accessible and coveted. And so, my literary life and my punk life were kept separate from each other, as I convinced myself that no one in my punk community was interested in reading my writing.
Of course, this isn’t entirely true, but it’s something I told myself. Zines are like a trick; someone in my community is much more likely to read my work in that format than in a literary journal. There is a reason I entitled my creative nonfiction zine Secret Bully, based off the Joan Didion essay Why I Write, because essentially that is what I am - sneaky and forcing you to see through my eyes - and I am okay with that:
In many ways writing is the act of saying I, of imposing oneself upon other people, of saying listen to me, see it my way, change your mind. It’s an aggressive, even a hostile act. You can disguise its qualifiers and tentative subjunctives, with ellipses and evasions—with the whole manner of intimating rather than claiming, of alluding rather than stating—but there’s no getting around the fact that setting words on paper is the tactic of a secret bully, an invasion, an imposition of the writer’s sensibility on the reader’s most private space.
I’ll be putting Secret Bully #2 up for sale in my shop this week, so keep an eye out. I’m feeling very inspired and encouraged to do the work to make this thing called “the dream” real. Try and stop me.