So, I don’t really know why I make zines or why I’m so obsessed with writing. For all intents and purposes, I am a logical, rational, pragmatic person. I work in accounting. Why would any logical, rational, pragmatic person be so attracted to such a cruel, cruel activity as creative writing? I mean, writing makes you so vulnerable. You are taking your thoughts and ideas – things that spring from the rawest parts of your brain and heart – and you are giving them to other people to read, dissect and judge. It’s so excruciating. Why can’t I just take up mountain climbing or tennis and be done with it? What I do know is that when I’m not in the midst of writing something, I feel awful. One of the most depressing periods for me was last winter when I was working way too many hours at an accounting firm, barely finding time to read a few paragraphs in a book, let alone trying to write one. To put it mildly, I cried a lot. So even though writing isn’t the most logical of interests, it’s a passion, an obsession, something I have to do, etc. Faulty brain wiring, talent or not, I’m stuck.
But making zines again reminded me of one good reason for being obsessed with this stuff. Admittedly, it’s pretty selfish: zines give me an excuse to connect with people I think are cool, people I admire, people I like. As I sat and handwrote little notes to old friends and new friends in faraway cities to include with the zine I was mailing to them, I realized that if it weren’t for the zine, I probably wouldn’t be writing them at all. I wanted to, but there never seemed to be a good excuse. But now I have something, a reason to say, “Hi! This is my way of saying I really like you and I’m happy to know you” or some less cheesy variant thereof. And by doing that, I get all these sweet responses in return. I love that.
Another example: Dave Eggers. He was in Montreal last night, giving a talk about the 826 Valencia project and his latest book, What Is The What. The talk was wonderful – funny and informative – and he had a sweet quietness about him that I didn’t anticipate. At the end of the night he was signing books, and because I had forgotten to bring any of the 4 books of his that I own, I got him to sign the November 28 section of my Moleskine planner. I’m not super keen on book signing stuff (although I’ve gotten some good ones recently), but it’s a nice souvenir. Mostly I wanted to say hi and thank you, and I wanted to give him a copy of my zine. It was a good feeling to see him thumb through it and ask me about it. It’s nice, you know?
So yes, writing (or at least the unshakeable desire to write) is painful, but every so often it’s worth it. I guess.