Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

Underwater slate thing shopping

I think one of the occupational hazards of only updating this thing every week or two is that I tend to forget what happened over the last however many days, and it causes me to sit down and think “well, nothing’s happening.” The same tends to happen when I update every day, though, especially because I don’t like to simply write about day-to-day crap or work politics or whatever. Sometimes I get ideas for a journal entry, but I don’t have a fixed time to write anymore, and the ideas come and go. I should be writing them down, but I never do. And most of my ideas happen in the shower, so even if I had a special pad of paper or something, it wouldn’t work in there. I think I saw an underwater slate type thing that scuba divers use, but I’d probably spend $40 on it and never use it.

The zine is done, I think. The cover and PDF are uploaded, and I ordered the proof, and if that’s OK, then it goes live, and can be ordered by all three of you that actually buy this stuff. Actually, I ordered two proofs, because I fucked up and uploaded a PDF I made from a week-old directory, and didn’t catch it until after I placed the order and got past the no-cancel point of no return. I am sure I will keep this one on the shelf as a “rarity”, just like the messed up proofs of various other books of mine. I say rarity because technically all of my books are rarities, since they sell so few copies. And I doubt there will ever be a point where I become famous and they go onto eBay for thousands of dollars. But Jack Kerouac never kept drafts of his books, and they would now be worth millions, so my impulse is to keep them.

Anyway, the zine is done, except for the part where I pony up some insane amount of money to buy a bunch of copies and then send them to each contributor. I am happy to send copies to people, especially if this makes them happy or they are impressed with seeing their words in print. I am not happy to have to order them, wait, get a bunch of envelopes, then drag a hundred pounds of books to the post office and give them a ton of money. And please don’t tell me some shipping shortcut that is supposed to save me time and money. New York post offices are all equally horrible, and are never open, and I have no car, so I can’t drive to the suburbs. I used to think the post office in Bloomington was bad, but it’s seriously like the Millenium Hotel compared to the places here. I just have no choice, and I have to suck it up and pay the price.

I don’t know how to feel about finishing an issue of the zine. It is exhilarating to get it all finished. It’s a small amount less than when I do my own books, because I always have a fear that I’ve fucked up something in someone’s story, and they will get pissed about it. It’s another half-inch of shelf space taken on the Konrath shelf of my home library (actually 1″ here, because of the dud proof) and I am always happy to get more volume there. This book is blue, a very deep cobalt blue, and it is my first blue book (black, black, red, black, black, green, grey, red) and I am happy to get something that really stands out but is also unused. I will be happy to hear from people who were contributors and write to tell me they liked the zine, or even better, liked a story by another contributor. Believe it or not, I actually pay for the costs and typically lose money, and I have people that send in stories and never write back to acknowledge that they ever got their zine, let alone that they liked it or thought that sucked. And with 18 other people in this one, at least one of them will do this, and it always pisses me off, even though it probably shouldn’t.

There are two things I don’t like about finishing the zine. One is that it will go out and become available, and nobody will buy it. It’s very hard to sell an anthology, and I never expect to get many orders, and I never do. I plan these things by trying to pick people who have their own little bit of fame, be it a book or band or blog or something, so their completist fans will buy a zine, maybe find another writer they like, and start writing to them or reading their web site or book or whatever. I don’t know if this really happens – probably not, or I’d sell many more copies. But that’s the intent, and like I said, there’s no way I could recoup my costs unless each writer got like 15 or 20 people to buy it, and I think the average is closer to 1 or 2. So all of that hanging over my head sucks.

The other big problem is that the project is done, and it’s time for me to move to something else. And I don’t know what that is at this point. I have all of these other ideas that are half-dead, and I think I need something totally new to waste my time. Who knows what, but that’s going to keep me neurotic for a while.

I’ve been reading a lot more than writing lately. I’m working on the Jonathan Ames book My Less Than Secret Life, which is pretty decent. I really liked his book What’s Not to Love?, and I really wish I could write something like this, except I don’t have that many embarrassing episodes compared to him. Scratch that – I don’t have that many that I’m willing to write about. Maybe the statute of limitations on some of the older episodes has expired. I don’t want to write about Bloomington for the sake of Bloomington, or Elkhart for the sake of an entirely complete historical whatever. (Like the Necrokonicon, which seriously has sold exactly two copies at this point.) I think there’s some inner issue I have to get through to do this, though. I can’t write funny stuff about all of the other crazy individuals in my life, because even though I can tell these stories to other people, I can’t tell them to said individual’s face, and I think you need to have that ability to proceed. If you’re going to talk about your crazy uncle Freddy, you have to be prepared for the consequences if he reads it. (And if those consequences include a lawsuit, you have to deal with that too.) The other problem is that I feel there was a great deal of stupidity and awkwardness in my life – I’ve done a lot of dumb shit, and I’ve never been able to come to terms with that. I have a horrible shame issue to deal with. And I guess if you can’t tell any of your friends about that time you shit your pants in France, you can’t write a book about it. (The pant-shitting thing is a Jonathan Ames story, not mine, btw.)

And it’s winter, which sucks. It isn’t even real winter – it’s 50 and pouring rain winter, with sundown at like 4:30. I’m back in Seattle, I guess. Except in Seattle, I had a car and there were covered garages everywhere. Now, it’s a jacket and the wind cutting through your clothes. I’ll probably like the first snow, but other than that, I’m waiting for spring. The only good thing about winter is avoiding it – sitting inside, under a blanket, reading, watching everyone freeze their balls off outside. I guess that’s okay, but I like fall much better.

Oh, and we saw the Borat movie yesterday, and it was so totally fucking funny, it was unbelievable. If you haven’t seen it, go do so.