Meet the Fan Writers: Chris Garcia
It’s time for the second installment of Meet the Fan Writers, in which you make the acquaintance of the folks nominated for the Best Fan Writer Hugo this year. Today we’ve got Chris Garcia, whose fanzine The Drink Tank is nominated (again!) for the Best Fanzine Hugo. Well done, Chris. And now, here he is.
OK, so John Scalzi’s got this blog. You know that, you’re reading it. He said that we Best Fan Writer Hugo nominees could write something and he’d put it up. That’s a good thing, I imagine, because everyone reads Whatever, right? Well, I don’t regularly. In fact, about the only time I do is when a bunch of other people post that there’s something there to look at. In fact, I don’t read that many blogs. I read my LJ friends list and that’s about it. I don’t even read Boing-Boing or SlashDot, and for a guy who works in the documenting of the Computer Age business, that’s almost criminal neglect. Basically, I read fanzines…when I’m not making my own.
OK, I’m supposed to be introducing myself here. I really should get around to that, don’t you think?
Let’s start with one fact: I am the least read writer of the nominees. Mr. Silver has sfsite.com, Argentus, his fine zine, his LJ and seriously good articles that pop up around town. Interestingly, he’s probably the second least read guy on the list. Cheryl Morgan has a popular blog, everyone remembers Emerald City (and I keep hoping it’ll come back) and she runs sfawardswatch.com (I think that’s what it’s called. I’m not 100% on that). Dave Langford writes Ansible, which is still widely read all over the place and has articles once in a while in other zines. He’s also got a column in some other magazine I don’t read but I understand lots of other people do. John Scalzi’s got this blog thingee and apparently I’m the only one who doesn’t read it every day. Me? I’ve got a zine no one reads, another zine that a handful of people read regular, a blog no one reads and articles that pop up all over the place. I think I’ve got everyone outdone on number of words, though. I think about 2 million words hit the screen last year from my computers. I’ve done a couple of different counts and the number has grown as I realize that I forgot to add this, that or those. I don’t think anyone else on the list had quite that many (maybe John did, I’m not sure) but mostly I write crap and I write it fast.
I should say that there are three levels of Chris Garcia writing. I’ll start at the bottom and work my way up.
First, you’ve got my stuff: The LJ and The Drink Tank (which is also up for a Hugo). The stuff I write there is the pure, unfiltered mental sap that I drain whenever I need to. Literally, it’s what I think and it comes out, goes onto the screen and that’s that. There’s no second pass to make sure it makes sense or is spelled right or anything. It’s just writing. This is usually the most fun for me and the hardest for other folks to get into. It also goes almost entirely unnoticed, which is fine. I don’t write this stuff to be read, honestly. I write it because I like writing and it’s fun to do it this way, without a care in the world. This does annoy some folks, but what can I say, I do it for my own entertainment and from the outside, it’s probably not that entertaining. I also write zines for the Southern Nevada Amateur Press Society (SNAPS) and the Fantasy Amateur Press Association (FAPA), but that stuff’s not widely available. You’d have to become a member to read those things! If you’re really interested, you can find it at eFanzines.com under The Drink Tank and my LJ name is johnnyeponymous.
Then there’s the regular stuff I write for groups that I’m long-associated with. There’s the large amount of writing I do for my column Falls Count Anywhere on FanboyPlanet.com, almost entirely on the sport of Professional Wrestling. Yes, it is a sport. It’s the only sport with the benefit of good writers. This is some of the more fun stuff that I do and I can dig deep and pull up great clods of memory and slap them into a weekly article. I also sometimes write about movies and comics for them too. And I’m on the PodCast every few weeks. There’s also SF/SF, my zine that I do with Jean Martin, David Moyce and Espana Sheriff among others. It’s a BArea-centered NewsZine that I love. It’s got a good layout guy, some strong writers and some lovely photos. I do a regular column on News & Notes around fandom, a column called This Old Fanzine about an old fanzine I’ve come across, and either an Editorial or responding to LoCs every issue. That’s the basic plot. There’s also my regular reviews and sometimes even articles that show up in Matt Appleton’s brilliant Some Fantastic. Go to somefantastic.us and read it. It’s good stuff. DO IT NOW!!! I used to do a regular thing for Dave Burton called Found In Collection. The point here is that these are the places where I’m writing stuff that isn’t just pure braindumping but has some thought put to it while still being at least partly me just thinking on Word windows. It’s the middle layer. If you wanna see some of that stuff, go to FanboyPlanet.com and read Falls Count Anywhere and eFanzines.com for Science Fiction/San Francisco.
The last layer is where you can actually find stuff that’s kinda worth reading. Those are the articles I write for real fanzines. Somehow, I’ve managed to convince some of the best fanzines out there (Banana Wings, PLOKTA, Knarley Knews, File 770, Argentus, Procrastinations, etc) to run articles from me. Now I will admit, at the possible risk of never being asked to write for any other zine again, that this is the least fun writing I do. I tend to take forever doing them, trying to make them seem OK, and then they get fixed up by real editors who know something about grammar and spelling and they polish it up and make it pretty. These are likely the things that I’d point out if people wanted to read my best work, but it’s also the stuff that the least me. I don’t think I’d be able to write much stuff like this if I didn’t have The Drink Tank and my LJ to just put thoughts out there. It’s not to say that I don’t enjoy writing this stuff, I do and some of it ranks as among the most fun stuff I’ve done, but it’s just not fully me. Well, that’s not true. The article on Evelyn (aka The Little One) and Cthulhu I wrote for John The Rock Coxon’s Procrastinations #3 was very much the kind of article I’d write if I were just writing because I wanted to, but that’s kinda an exception. I forgot about that one. This is the stuff you’ll want to read and maybe even take something away from. Look on eFanzines.com for Procrastinations, File 770 (the most recent issue), Knarley Knews and Argentus. You can find my article in one of the PLOKTAs that came out in 2006 at plokta.com.
My biggest thing may be this: I write for fanzines first and foremost. I love fanzines and think they’re one of the best ways to interact with fandom. I’m not a big blog guy, I keep one because it provides a place for my thoughts that aren’t big enough to expand into a full Drink Tank article. I want folks to seek out fanzines, not only as readers but as writers. I certainly wasn’t nominated for the writing I did in my blog. I was nominated because of the writing I did in fanzines, and that’s what I want to encourage. I want folks to write for fanzines and I want folks to notice that. There was a stink when John was nominated last year (and I can honestly say I had almost no idea who John Scalzi was at that point!), and I was on the side of the complaining (though not as annoyed as others) because John hadn’t written anything I’d read for fanzines. I hope that’ll change (hint, hint, John, I need content for The Drink Tank!) and that we’ll start to see folks who are known for their blogs start to write for fanzines again as well.
OK, I’m gonna wrap up all this rambling. Go to eFanzines.com and read what’s there. It’s good stuff. Drop a letter of comment to folks on the stuff you read, write an article and submit it. Just help power us along.
Thank you and Good Day!