Remedy Quarterly Issue 6 from Kelly Carambula
I am so pleased to announce that a story about my young days as a punk rock zinester back in Portland, Oregon has been published in the wonderful journal Remedy Quarterly. Run by Kelly Carambula of the fantastic food (and lovely cocktail) blog Eat Make Read, the publication features “Stories of food, recipes for feeling good.” Each issue is put together around a theme and the newly released issue number six has “Stealing” as its binding idea. As with anything theme driven it’s really fun to see how each author interpreted that theme. My piece takes on the late 1990’s punk community’s views on stealing and how we used that to our advantage to help feed hungry zinesters at the first Portland Zine Symposium in 2001. It also features a recipe for my potluck standby, peanut tofu noodles.
Not only is Remedy Quarterly a pleasure to read, but it is beautifully designed. It even features original fonts by Aaron Carambula, among others. In this digital age it’s nice to find a beautiful magazine you can hold in your hand, so the article is only available in the paper journal. Treat yourself! And why not subscribe and support independent publishing and cooking?
And yes, I totally cross posted this to my food blog, 2 Cooks in the Kitchen.
There was a New York City that I dreamed of when I was growing up. It was a mixture of Greenwich Village during the Beatnik era and the Lower East Side of the 1980’s. It was full of punks, dreamers, activists and artists. The dangers that might have been lurking there were more aesthetic than real. Poverty and hunger were stylish accouterments. All who were there possessed the ability to transform the urban environment. While obviously this political, arty urban paradise existed only in my imagination some lived it in all its gritty, dangerous, complicated, hungry reality. Patty Smith lucidly captures it in her recent book Just Kids. Gary Indiana’s new compilation out from MIT Press, Last Seen Entering the Biltmore, collects his poems, prose, short plays and works of art from the late 70’s to the present, chronicling through his artistic production his time in this environment after he made the decision to “not to do anything he didn’t want to do” and to become a writer. Last Seen Entering the Biltmore captures Indiana’s sense of absurd and also his strong artistic integrity. I wrote a full review for NYFA’s online magazine for artists, NYFA Current, and would be honored if you checked it out here.
For my 30th birthday I made a resolution to start taking concrete steps towards my lifelong goal of being a writer. Besides all the research, outreach, planning and making connections that it entails, it also means sitting down, collecting my thoughts, and actually producing writing.
It feels incredibly self-indulgent, especially because I am also in graduate school and work full time, to write without a specific deadline or with an end result in mind. It seems like a real luxury to dwell in and focus on my own creativity. It’s scary to respect my ideas and creative impulses and take them seriously enough to give them time in my life. It’s ironic, because in my professional life I often act as a cheerleader or coach for artists, encouraging them to take their artistic ideas and careers seriously enough to push them to the next level. I also edit their grant proposals and project narratives and spend much time giving them feedback on their writing.
I’m at the beginning of a new decade and have a clear goal for the end, which is to be a writer in no uncertain terms. Deep down I know that only goal that has ever mattered to me and is the one that I will think about when I assess my life to see if I achieved what I hoped to. I’ve spent the past decade of my life ensuring my career as an arts administrator and I feel proud of that. However, as I spend my work days encouraging artists to trust in their visions it’s difficult to turn around and afford myself the same trust. I think these artists have given themselves the self confidence, and the permission, to trust in what they make and take it seriously. It’s hard to give myself the same permission. It’s much simpler to dwell on my own frustrations or feel like my goals are out of reach.
However, my goals will always be out of reach if I don’t start writing. If I don’t take the first steps to get organized, take a deep breath and push myself into the unknown, how will I even know what I want is possible?
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.
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.
I’ve kept it quiet for some and talked endlessly about it with others, but this month I was a proud participant in National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo for short. I’ve been cheered on all month by my housemate Lauren, friend and neighbor Keight (both past NaNoWriMo winners) and pen-pal Rob (a participant this time), my co-workers Lyndsey, Alisa, and Jerimiah, and was given the courage to push on by my family in the last stretches while my parents bragged to my grandmother, “Eleanor’s writing a novel.” Yes, it is true. I did it and it’s done. The novel has no title. I don’t know the genre. I hope it is literary fiction, but it may just be chick-lit. In any event, it is over 50,000 words long (51,156 to be exact) and it exists. It centers around a young, American 20-something named Hannah who moves to Paris after college to prove she’s not sublimating her dreams and all that follows. Will it ever see the light of day after this month? I have no idea, but it’s done! I think it’s an experience ever writer, even those like me who don’t usually write fiction, should go through. It imposed a creative discipline on me and showed me that I can get up at 7 a.m. to write. It made me look for all the possible opportunities in the day to write, and I got to create a whole reality based on, but not exactly like, the one I live in and the things I have experienced. I can’t wait to do it again, but I think I only have one novel in me and this was it.
Part of my hopes and goals for 2008 is to write more. I realized I’m in danger of becoming one of those artists who never does the thing that they really want to do (writing in my case) because they are too busy earning their rent money or getting lost in daily distractions. During a phone call with Elissa today she talked about working on her writing while being a public school teacher. They key is to start small, to “use what you have” as Elissa says. Like this blog. So I’ve decided to rekindle my posting focus and let this blog and the small stories I share about my life as writing warm up. I’m also reading “The Anti 9 to 5 Guide,” which is also inspiring me to get off my duff and start writing. So, if you have any suggestions about being a writer AND working a full time job not at all related to writing, please send them my way.