Being a blogger having been a zinester wanting to become a writer

Petite Super International
The other week I went to the Brooklyn Bloggers meetup at the Bell House with my friend Laura of the blog Eating the Beats. It was my first time going to an event consciously as a “blogger,” and despite having written on Killerfemme for the past few years I’ve been hesitant to really identify as being a blogger versus simply being a person who has a blog. All told, the Brooklyn Blog meetup was fun. I talked to bloggers who write about New York nachos, tech and gadgets from a girl’s perspective, writers for Broeklyn, and a brave young woman who writes about being broke and navigating New York’s dating scene. It was nice to hear people’s interesting ideas and find out about how they are crafting their blogs. However, I also feel like I’ve come to blogging too late to really get into it without seeing the bold commercialism that is behind so many blogs now. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but blogs are often seen as a means to another end, which is fine, if that’s your goal. While I too would love a book contract and/or a regular byline, I don’t necessarily think my personal blog will be my ticket to my dreams as a writer.

Mostly I feel like I haven’t found my blogging “community” yet. Perhaps it’s because of the vastness of the blogosphere (if we can even call it that anymore), but I don’t feel like I’ve found bloggers who share my ideas, values and aesthetics. In fact, most of the blogs I read are in French. While I thoroughly enjoy those blogs, it’s hard to connect with those writers when I write in a different language, even if I comment on their entries en francais.
Who will win the typing contest?
This made me think back to when I started making my personal zine Induglence in 1998. When I first encountered zines I knew immediately that I would make one myself. The concept of publishing one’s own personal writing made sense to me innately, especially as a teenager, because I knew that I could not expect anyone else to publish my work. Perhaps because I knew exactly the kind of writers I wanted to connect with—I would describe them loosely as young feminists interested in art, queer politics, and music—it was easier for me to immerse myself in the zine community. I felt like over the course of two or so years I was able to build up an audience for my zine and also a network of close friends, penpals and fellow zinesters that I felt I shared something in common with. My connection to and beleif in the power of the zine network extended into helping found the Portland Zine Symposium in 2001. It continues to resonate into my adult life because some of my closest friends (and neighbors) are women I met through zines over 10 years ago.

Perhaps its because I have close friends now that I don’t feel the same urgency to seek out people to connect with through blogs. However, I also feel like I am writing in a vacuum, and some days that makes me wonder if I should even continue to bother with this blog. Keeping a blog (and keeping it up more regularly and diligently) has reminded me about the whole reason I started making zines and keeping a blog to begin with: to write. Being a writer has been my dream ever since I was a little girl and it is something I am determined to make a reality in my thirties. I know it’s harder now than ever to distinguish oneself, one’s voice, one’s ideas, and one’s blog (especially if I don’t have hundreds of dollars and hours to sink into the design and hosting of it), but I also feel like its much easier for me to find opportunities to publish and connect with wider audiences nowadays. For me, I feel like blogging and writing for other web-based publications holds a lot of promise. We’ll see what the future will bring.

Hopefully in the next decade I'll be able to write a better novel than Ida the cat.

4 thoughts on “Being a blogger having been a zinester wanting to become a writer

  1. I’m kind of dealing with the same thing right now. I want to be a writer (or maybe, because I actually do write, I should amend that to be “want to be an author”) and I pursue this by blogging and making zines and trying (and failing) to get my work published. I feel like I vacillate between thinking it’s a worthwhile pursuit of my time, if only because it’s something I love and feel very passionately about, and thinking I am wasting my time, because there are so many others out there trying to do the same thing. So rather than focusing on the careerist aspect of it, I’m trying to take pleasure in the very act of writing, and maybe, hopefully that will take me somewhere I’d like to go very soon.

    But yes, blogs definitely lack the sense of forming a solid, tangible community that comes along with participating in zine culture. Like, I feel like I could go hang out with people I’ve met through zines but I almost never feel that way about people I’ve encountered via blogs. It’s one of the main reasons I think that whole equivalency between blogs and zines is a false one. The sense of community just ain’t the same.

    • Really well said! I think you describe exactly the disconnect I feel between zines and blogs. Also, I love what you say about the importance of taking pleasure in writing. That is a clear need and good to keep front in center so one does not fall into hand wringing about opportunities that do not come one’s way.

  2. I sometimes feel like this too, although I’ve been to some zine-related events over the years where it had moved more toward clique-ishness than I’d like. (The zine section at OutWrite was one of them, probably 15 years back.) I liked doing zines and I felt like it connected me with not only other like-minded folks but also a music scene. I think riot grrrl was the culmination of that for me. And I’ve seen more than a few adult women wish for something like that back. And I do, too.

    What I do find missing in my blog-land is personal blogs by women that carry enough of a message where I’d like to get on board? Which is amusing — and a contradiction since the blogs I choose to put on my reader (mostly personal style blogs). I say I read blogs for escapism but then I feel sort of cheated if there isn’t much substance there…ever. (I’m sure I’m guilty of the same.)

    Also, I think I saw you on your bike on the sidewalk near 22nd? I was speaking with my friend about the local rapes while dropping off my laundry and I was mid-sentence when I thought, “She looks familiar…” but I didn’t quite figure it out until later!

    • This is exactly the contradiction I feel too – I feel like I read blogs for escapism as well (personal style blogs for sure!), and yet, I do want substance and critical thought and pretty pictures. I’m glad to know I’m not alone in this. And I’m not interested in cliques in zines or blogs – connections are more important. And yes, that was me on the sidewalk! I know I shouldn’t have been riding my bike there. I was also just coming from running in the park… I wanted to introduce myself properly when I was less sweaty! :-)

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