Apr. 25th, 2013

SO, I'm often asked a simple question - 'How do you do all the zines?" Lately, it's been harder and harder, and for the first time in my fannish life, I've got a bunch of material backed up, waiting for a Drink Tank or a Journey Planet or an Exhibition Hall or whatever new zine I launch on an afternoon when the sun is out and I've got nothing better to do.

These things happen.

So, I started thinking, thinking about how I create. I know why (IT'S SO MUCH FUN!!!!) and I know when (in all those moments when I should be doing something more productive), but the how is an interesting note. I mean, the technologies I use are actually pretty simple: desktop publishing software's at least as old as the Macintosh, PDFs nearly that old. That's simple. Create some boxes, drag some art, make some outlines, find a few quotes. Easy peasy, right?

Yes.

The thing that's hard is finding a way to actually do it. There are times I want to relax, to do nothing but close my eyes, put my head on a pillow and let the world slip away. You might know this concept as sleep. I'm not actually very good at that. Sleep apnea has been hard on me, and I've suffered from insomnia since at least college. Bummer. One reason I keep my computer so close to my bed overnight is so that when I wake up at 2:38am, head throbbing and nose stuffed like a post-fight boxer, I can pull MacKenzie (my MacBook) and start putting something together. There I'll be, my CPAP mask still pushing air through my nose with that weird engine noise whir, with the laptop balanced on my belly, writing and writing, usually about nothing at all, and trying to connect dots with lines, and lines with boxes. Seldom does it work, and often it's just terrible, but there are times when it's far more fun to just create something and know that it'll never see the light of day.

It's hard to edit yourself in the middle of the night!

Well, for me, it's hard to edit myself whenever. I'm no good at it, and honestly, my best stuff is instantaneous, off-the-cuff, now. Then again, my worst stuff is instantaneous, off-the-cuff, now. There's no other way I create, I just go and go and go. I was reading Harry Warner, Jr.'s All Our Yesterdays column (it's on eFanzines.com) and he said everything he did save for a couple of chapters of All Our Yesterdays (the book) were first draft. That heartened me, the greatest fan writer who ever lived did things in much the same way I do them. The only difference? He had talent.

Here's How to Create a Zine The Garcia Way!

Step One - Write at the weird times. Lunches, while cooking, when you're waiting in an airport, in the car waiting to pick-up the kids. Don't set aside time to write, just write. Once a word hits the pages, let it stand there. If it jumps out at you again, then maybe fix it. Just write. The writing is the hardest part.

Step Two - Lay it out. Get yourself a layout program, and start to put the writing into shapes. I suggest rectangles. Do it fast. Why? Because you'll notice things that need to be fixed if you take your time and you'll fix them. Then you'll find more, and you'll fix them. And you'll find more and more and more, and you'll wait and wait, and want it to be perfect. Perfect is the enemy of the Done. Done is most important. Even if you're moving fast, you'll notice things, and if you keep going fast and notice things, you should fix those fast.

Step 3 - Put it out there. That's the easiest part, whether you're using eFanzines.com or your own site or whatever, just getting things out there is the most important part. Never stop yourself from putting things out. Even if you're not 100% happy with what you've done, and I'm seldom happy with what I put out, you need to get it out there because if you don't, you're doing nobody any favors. Think about it like this: you can create something and keep it to yourself, and guess what, you're a diarist! That's a proud and noble tradition, true, but what it doesn't do is draw people in. The key to zines, and by extension blogs and podcasts and In Other Media, is that you're drawing people in to your creations, your thoughts, in a way, your life, and to do that, you've gotta get it out there.

My way is probably the least good way, I admit, but it works for me because it allows me something that I love. It allows me to interact with folks, often in a one-way presentational form, but even that is an interaction. People ask why I keep creating if I'm not going to get any response or feedback on it, and I simply say "Because I love creating." I love doing zines, and when it's not just me, when people send articles, send art, send eMailed Worlds of Comment, it becomes even more fun.

I love doing zines, and I don't plan on stopping or slowing anytime soon!
Chris

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