Monday, April 7, 2008

Is blogging the new little magazine?

Blogging doesn't feel natural to me. I don't understand who might read this; if I don't publicize this and provide a link to it, how will people ever come across it? Who would take the time to go through a universe of anonymous blogs? So, maybe I am just writing this to myself, storing my thoughts in cyberspace rather than in a notebook--the benefit that it is a journal I can access from anywhere.  

I am assuming that blogging is what the zine scene used to be in the 1980s to mid-1990s. I used to publish a little magazine (a very small magazine) and was sort-of part of the underground zine scene in the 1980s to early 1990s.

It used to be a tedious process to publish and distribute a little magazine. Even when it was mostly my own writing, I would have to type everything up and lay it out (the first few issues were actually done on an electric typewriter; the middle issues were done on an old Mac Plus, with a screen the size of a trade paperback; and the later issues done on the comparably larger-sized Power Mac). Then a trip to the copy store and back home to collate and staple. Later on to the post office to mail it out to the people who were brave and kind enough to subscribe to it, as well as to other people who published their own zines, as a freebie exchange.

The good thing about publishing a zine was that I would get 3, 4, sometimes 10 zines in one week in my mailbox. People would read about my magazine in FactSheetFive and other paper directories of little magazines and send a sample copy of what they were doing and ask for the same. The process became a lot more tedious when I asked for contributions. Increasingly, all my spare time went into answering my mail--and most of that time was simply stuffing the sheets of paper back into the return envelopes, especially when it was supposed to be poetry or long fiction or other things I didn't ask for. But there were writers I really liked and liked publishing and with whom I sometimes collaborated via long-distance phone calls and letters.

How fantastic that I can type this up onto a computer screen and potentially send it off to hundreds of people at once, without involving paper, envelopes, mailing labels, stamps.  (Or, I can put it on the Web and have it just sit there, the same as if being inside my own computer.) But there is something a little lonely about this, a little isolated. In doing so, I don't see the people in the copy shop, the guy at the post office (most memorably, the one with the handlebar moustache in Chapel Hill), the people on the Metro as I take back my stack of copied sheets home in my lap, the people I would meet at small press fairs.  What is the present-day equivalent to getting sample zines in the mail? An email with links?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This idea of intellectual isolation, it must be rather common. When I tell people I do not watch t.v. I get the most appalled looks, and I am a college professor! My peers can't believe I don't know all about Princess Di. I can't believe they know so little about books.
So it turns out my best friends ARE far away, and I know them through their e-messages.
I look forward to the day when e-portfolios are as common as face-book is with my young students.