INTERVIEW WITH CINDY OVENRACK CRABB (posted september 25, 2007)
how did you get involved in zines/d.i.y. publishing?
I started doing a zine in '92. Before that I'd been writing fiction and sort of trying to get stories printed in literary magazines. I wanted to write books some day, and that's what everyone said you had to do - build up a resume of magazines you'd been published in, but most literary magazines published about 90% men, so it felt pretty hopeless. I'd also been involved in the publication of an anarchist political magazine called "Free Society," that was pretty amazing and pretty intellectual, and I didn't feel like I had education level, or the self-confidence to actually write political articles like that. I'd only seen a couple zines, but they totally spoke to me - spoke to this missing place in our world of media and information and expression and politics and experience of the world - that you didn't have to be an expert to count - that there was beauty and value in working things out in a public way, being human and real.
why do you continue making paper zines in the age of the internet? how do you think the internet has affected the world of paper zines?
I love paper. I love holding things in my hands. I love reading in bed. I don't always have electricity, let alone internet connection. I don't believe that everyone else has access to computers. I don't like reading about difficult things on a computer in a public space. I like to read under the covers, falling asleep. I like to read on long car trips. I like to read on picnics in the green green grass under the blue blue sky with the river whispering and my sweet sister by my side. I like to say, "look at this," and show her something real. I like the feel of typewriter keys under my fingers. and computers kind of give me a headache.
what is your writing/editing/layout process like?
I usually try and write and take a lot of notes and observations, do a lot of free writing - stream of consciousness - to see what shows up the most - and then I try and begin to focus my thoughts. It's a long process. I don't just print whatever's on my mind at the minute. I talk to people about the things I'm thinking of writing about - try and articulate my ideas out loud, and hear what they think, and see how these conversations change or validate my thoughts. Then I get really frustrated that I'll never be able to get it down on paper. I get out the manual typewriter, and usually it comes out a lot better with the rhythm of those keys. I write a few pages, and edit them a few times, read them out-loud (I usually talk out-loud while I'm writing to see how the sentences sound), I feel like it'll never get written. I lay out a couple pages and show them to my sister and ask her if they're stupid or boring. She usually says no, but sometimes has some suggestions. I go back and change them and re-lay it out. then I keep going. in that way. If I don't lay it out as I go, I get overwhelmed. I like to see the progress and take time to draw pictures as I go.
how do you think the zine community or the process of making zines has changed since you've been involved?
I don't feel like I've been part of a zine community exactly. I'm surprised now how many people I know because they did zines - but at the time it didn't seem like a zine community, it was more just that tons of people did zines. I don't know how it's changed. It seems like people used to do more zine distros that were just setting up tables at shows. More people ask me about distribution now days, like it feels like more people think it's important to get their zines everywhere, and before people just did them - did tiny press runs (like 20 copies) and that was fine. I liked that.
are you "out" to people in your life as a zinester? how do you explain it to people who don't understand?
I just explain it as it is. small magazines. self-published. non-commercial.
what do you like best about the zine world? what do you like least?
I'm excited about my new issue (not out yet) because I think I'd feel comfortable giving it to strangers on the street. The last four issues have had articles that made me less apt to do that. What I like best is that we can break alienation by telling our stories. I like that we can learn to tell the truth about our lives and our experiences under racistcapitalistpatriarchy, and that we can find ways to survive in the practice of truth telling. I like when people start to believe in the value of their lives and their ideas, and when they challenge themselves to think deeply.
the things I don't like are just petty things and not worth talking about.
do zines play a political role in your life? are you involved in other d.i.y. projects? do they play a political role?
I definitely consider my zine to be political. I want to change the world, and I am an anarchist and a feminist, and I think that in order to have widespread social change, we need to really get to the heart of ourselves, to learn to stop being so afraid of ourselves, to heal, and to fight and organize. All these things and how they intertwine and make a life worth living. this is what I try and write about. I don't usually read a lot of straightforward political zines these days - although I think they are really useful. I tend to read political books, and more personal zines.
I am involved in other projects as well - mostly women's healtheducation, and survivor support work.
what advice might you have for someone who is new to the zine community?
be humble and truthful and brave. do it for yourself, not to prove anything. do it because you love it and it feels good and it helps you learn and become stronger. it can be scary to put out a zine, and expecting feedback and not getting it. it's ok. it's still worth it. people don't always know how to respond. editing can be fun, but also it doesn't need to be perfect.
what role do you think distros can/should play in the zine community?
distros are great. more people should do them. small distros are great. tabling at shows is awkward but a good way to be able to hang out somewhere and feel like you have a purpose.
are there changes you'd like to see in the zine community or your own zine creation?
I actually have no idea what the zine community is. I'd like to have my zine come out more often, and hopefully I'll be able to do that.