Wednesday, July 28, 2004

There have been some interesting comments on the zine conversation between me and Chance, which you can read in the comments section if you scroll down and click.  Add something of your own if you've got any ideas to contribute.  If you want a lowdown of the event, rather than to take your time perusing specifics, Matt Cheney has a good summary over at The Mumpsimus, which you should be reading for your own good anyway.

I suppose what I'd like to talk about in greater detail should be written as an essay.  But for now I'll just keep free flow writing here.  One thing that I think that is happening, which is a distinguishing factor between mine and Chance's commentary, is that hers is more about looking at a writer's credits, seeing a bunch of uninspired zines listed, and immediately assessing that wading through that writer's stuff is probably not worth her effort.  I think I may be inclined to agree in that assessment.  This is why in the comments section for that post some people have been more keyed into talking about resumes and cover letter subs being tailored to listing your best publications.  On that note, I agree resoundingly.  We don't have all day, you know, to assess your qualifications, and if you list fifty very small unknown zines as credentials, it probably very much does look suspicious.  (Why have you written fifty stories in a year or two anyway?  This is my own bias here.  I don't write that fast and when I've written too quickly, the work suffers, and often I feel the same way about reading stories by writers who write at notorious fast paces.  I suffer reading them most often.  This is another topic altogether though, let's save it for next week maybe, and keep on the idea of zines and small presses for now.)

Chance was mostly talking about looking at writer's credits, I think.  What I was inspired to write about after reading her entry was that, though she is right in a sense, it is unfair to dismiss zines and small press publications categorically, summarily, however you have it.  I want to stress that in any publication, professional or small press, I believe aesthetics and vision are essential to making the thing work and be worthwhile.  The zines I read most often are Say... , Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, Electric Velocipede, Flytrap, Alchemy (although I'm not sure if this is a zine or would be considered more along the lines of a specfic lit journal, like Century), and online I like Nerve, Scifiction, Strange Horizons, Fortean Bureau, Ideomancer, Failbetter, and Pindeldyboz.  Some of those I just listed, like Strange Horizons and Scifiction and Nerve, pay professional rates.  But I'm categorizing them as ezines, which is how they are referred to, because simply being online somehow moves them down a heirarchical system of value.  Even when the are edited by fabulous minds or when they have the money to offer writers pay for their time and efforts.

But yes, there are a lot of small endeavors that just don't cut it.  That's not what I wanted to emphasize so much as that there are some that do something amazing, and it's sad they are sometimes neglected due to a category of publication they belong to.  I hate categories.  That's probably apparent.  I know they're useful on some level, but I find them frustrating.  Probably because I tend to not pay attention to them and choose my reading based on other factors.  Sometimes I'm not even aware of what part of a bookstore I'm in until I look up and see a sign that tells me the name of the section where I just found something wonderful.

For instance, tonight I was at the bookstore and I watched how the young teenagers in the YA section of the bookstore walked over from the YA shelves to the general literature section to browse, yet not one adult in two hours walked over to the YA shelves to browse.  Why?  Hmm?  Maybe because they think if they did that they'd be reading "downscale".  For me, this is a literalized metaphor.  Adults relegating books with teen protagonists to their own "section" of the bookstore.  "Let's give them their own space, along with the gay people and black people.  God knows we wouldn't want to have to actually listen to them.  They're really only interested in what each other has to say anyway, right?  Of course.  My aren't we liberal and considerate."

Anyway, again, I'm off topic.  Probably because it's late and I need to go to sleep, so that's what I'll do now, and check in with y'all later.


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