So I’ve read and re-read the comments on my post about charging money for blogging, and through them I’ve realized two things-
-I could maybe make enough to pay my phone bill
-but I would lose all of my readers.
I have to admit to myself that, in the grand scheme of things, my blog is relatively young (not even a year!), I’m still getting new readers all the time (mostly through word-of-mouth) and anyway, my blog doesn’t have a consistent theme (it’s kind of like in the publishing industry- if I can’t sell it in one sentence, neither can anyone else) and I don’t write on it every single day, more like three times a week, so it will never get the sort of traffic some other blogs get. Also, if readers paid for this shit it would feel like a job, and I would never be able to take a break, never ever, but as it is I could stop writing here for a few weeks if I wanted, as long as I was willing to lose half my readers.
So- if I charged for this blog I would have maybe like ten readers and no-one else would ever wander over and make themselves comfortable like they have been doing over the last 9 months, in waves, it seems, arriving and then leaving and sometimes coming back depending on what I’m talking about and how often.
Before I gave up the idea of subscription blogging entirely, though, I did decide that the best way to go would be to charge a flat fee for a lifetime subscription- like five bucks. Anyone can afford that, and if you have enough readers it’s still worth it. And then you don’t have to bother with subscriptions and whatnot. I might do that someday if I take another big trip and get one of those tiny computers so I can travel with it and update every day. But I’m not doing that now, I’m just living, being broke and thinking about privilege and trying to figure out what to do with my life and stuff. And I am writing a book but that takes a good long while and can’t be rushed (of course I thought I was almost done, and then I realized I wanted it to actually be GOOD) and then it takes just as long if not longer to find an agent and sell it and publish it and stuff, so it’ll be a long time, I think, until I can actually make any money off of being a writer. And as far as publishing stories in magazines- I’m actually getting three stories published this year! And not one of them pays a cent! But that’s the way it goes. There are other publications that pay good money but they’re much more competitive and it takes months to even get a rejection from them, and just the process of double-spacing my shit and mailing it off with real postage and then getting rejected like a year later sort of breaks my heart. So the places I’m getting published this year are in magazines who sought ME out, not the other way around, but of course they don’t pay. And I’ll let you know when those stories are out. One of them should be soon. (crosses fingers)
Oh, and about zines-
For those of you who aren’t one of the fifty people who know what a zine is, it’s a self-published little hunk of your work, aka Xeroxed paper folded in half and stapled down the middle. Zines are incredible because anyone can make one, and there are some bookstores around the country that will sell them for you, and lots of online distros (more every day!). People make them about all sorts of things- reviews of punk bands they like, personal stories, bad photocopies of art- really anything you want to publish, kind of like a blog, but with more of an emphasis on DIY and radical anti-capitalist lifestyles (“voluntary simplicity”, to use the commonly understood blogosphere term) and they sell the zines for like 2 dollars or the cost of copies. Every year in Portland there’s a zine symposium attended by hundreds and hundreds of people who sell their beautiful handmade zines and hastily xeroxed zines and crocheted finger puppets and letterpress cards and homemade menstrual pads to each other- it’s a big room full of long tables so stuffed with hand-crafted two-dollar art that it kind of blows your mind, and people just mill about, sort of dazed, clutching fistfuls of wadded dollars the made at their barista jobs. The zine symposium makes me feel like I’m eight years old again with a pocketful of arcade tickets and I’m standing at the glass case at the state fair and it’s chock-full of rubber bouncy balls and plastic dinosaurs and mood rings and I can buy anything I want. So the basic sentiment of zines is Fuck The Publishing Industry, There’s No Books About Dealing With Chronic Pain From An Anti-Oppression, Post-Punk Perspective, So I’ll Get All My Friends To Write Articles (Via A Call For Submissions On Myspace) And Xerox Them And Silk-Screen A Nice Cover And Publish It Myself.
And sell if for two dollars, or course.
It sort of breaks your heart.
Or the other classic zine- I Traveled For Free And This Is What Happened. Basically, if Kerouac was alive today, he would’ve made a zine. And a lot of zines are even written in the style he wrote On The Road– sort of stream of consciousness, not a lot of standard structure, no discernible story arc or real resolution at the end.
So I made a zine for three years before starting this blog, called Dirt & Cheese (because it was earnest and overly-personal) – I put out one issue every year, of all the things I’d done that year- hitch-hiking to Alaska, working in cannery, catching my first solo long-distance freight train in La Grande and having my first panic attack, getting caught shoplifting in Nebraska when I ran out of water and spending the night in jail, falling in love in North Carolina, working a little bit in New Orleans after the flood, going to Alaska again and living in the cabin that Jewel grew up in, adopting a cream-colored husky with a sorrowful howl, riding trains with said cream-colored husky, eating roadkill in BC, and tons of stuff about my childhood. I made one zine each year and they got bigger, and bigger, and bigger. And then last spring my zine was 100 pages long. It was so thick I couldn’t even staple it, and it cost too much to copy to really make it worth distroing (no-one really wants to pay more than a couple bucks for a zine). I made some copies anyway, and a friend in North Carolina made me a box of copies for free at a prestigious university during “student appreciation week” when all their copiers were free. A friend in Portland gave it to another friend and that friend said “why doesn’t she just write a book?” and I was like, huh. Ok.
And anyway, I write too much to make zines. Although it’s a different demographic, more people read my blog every day than ever read any one issue of my zine. And there’s tons of labor involved in making a zine- and the cost of copies these days is insane- and plus all that paper. And you never, ever make money- at least I never did, but I think that’s just the way it goes.
So there’s a short history of zines for you. There are lots of places to buy them, and some better-known zines, and always lots of new ones.
Ok, and here’s a pretty amazing video of this kid reading their zine, in all its ziney glory and snarky glamorization of youth culture-