The Chicago Zine Fest photo booth!
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.