An Approach Both Local and Global

I am not a great writer of place. This is not laziness : it is a real necessity if I am to give birth to my particular vision. In order to make way for the intimately universal, I do not set my fiction in instantly recognizable locales, nor is any regional influence obvious. My characters do not speak in dialect, do not exhibit traits characterized by a specific city or state. They are merely, inescapably human: a condition experienced by every soul the world over. There is atmosphere and description to be found in my stories but they are peculiar to individuals and their personal surroundings: there is no wider, deeper imprint of place. I respect and enjoy many writers who are profoundly connected to their home turf, and carry it into their work: Austen, Joyce, Faulkner. The passion and intensity that they imbued their novels with remains a strong pull across the tumble of so many years. Yet, a lack of specificity can be an equal lure for readers, and this is what I attempt with my words, however humble. The drive behind what I do, and how I approach the career that presents my artistry to the light, is another matter: it is an unbreachable combination of the local and the universal, and always as grassroots as possible.
The Internet has opened up a heretofore unimaginable amount of venues for the selling, marketing and discourse of artistic product. What someone writes in Russia can be read in North Dakota as soon as a button is pressed. The possibility is breathtaking and would, likely, be unfathomable to the writers of even 50 years ago. This means that networking can be done on a scale as vast as the world itself. You can, with surprising ease, craft a sounding board or support group made up of individuals of many nations without ever going through the hoops of old-fashion and exhausting legwork. This may sound impersonal but it can be truly valuable, and genuine connections can be formed. Yet to use this as the sole means of contact ,and the only form of self-promotion, is sadly limiting. At the heart of it, nothing surpasses getting your hands dirty at a local level–the place where, perhaps, the most difference is to be made. This kind of approach is my life’s passion, next to the actual act and offering of writing itself. I am enraptured with words, in love with history and dedicated to thanking those who came before me. I will briefly boil this amalgam down to the bone: Small press literary publications were the unheralded backbone of American and European literature in the earliest decades of the 20th-Century. They were a mouthpiece to some of the finest efforts of writers great and small; writers whose poetry, essays, critiques and stories would otherwise not have been published regularly or at all. These artist-helmed publications were their way to immortality, even if they did not know it at the time. Combining the above elements is where my devotion to the local becomes active.
While working for a Columbus-based art-and-culture start-up a few years back, my passions turned to convictions, and from there ideas sprang into being. One of the things that I set out to do as Literary Editor of The Atomic Tomorrow was to turn many of the pages over to the work of local writers, of all ages, genres, and voices. I was honoured to give others the same chance that I received, and continue to receive so generously from various sources. The literary section of that paper gave seed to what I am attempting to do with A Small Press Life and the ‘zine that I have in production.
While I love blogging and lending my work to other on-line publications, where there is a true sense of community, I enjoy the change and challenge of crafting something from the ground up and then physically putting it together. In our techno-sated world, there is almost a sense of rebellion, even anarchy, in laying out, printing, and hand-assembling a magazine or book. The artistry seems to be of a higher order, and the satisfaction is beyond anything to be gained from hitting a “Publish Post” button. When done by professionals, especially, the end-product can be a masterly gem of vision, talent, and individuality. Zining is, for me, the perfect balance and blend of the modern and the classic.
There is something lovely and primal about creating a ‘zine: the process, for me, is an organized yet organic exploration of what I am capable of. It stretches my talent in new directions. I do not indulge in the awkward, car-wreck known as the perzine, which is a glorified diary. I gather art and writing from my always-expanding circle of professional creative friends. My ‘zines are a breathing, pulsing tribute to those little Literary Magazines mentioned-above, on a scale not significantly smaller than those put-out by my mentor-muses. The advantages of modern technology walk into the picture after an issue has been completed.
The wonders of Etsy and Papernstitch, coupled with electronic word-of-mouth, are the best free-marketing-and-selling venues available for hand-made goods. Your product reaches around-the-globe almost instantaneously. You can have fans in Australia or Iceland, without actively advertising there. I am an enthusiastic proponent of this concept: the local-gone-global. Still, nothing beats the giddy, visceral thrill of placing your work in your own city. Whether it be at a coffee shop or farmer’s market, having something that I have worked so diligently at and for available in my own neighborhood is the biggest kick of all. These outlets will always be vital to my art: spreading it locally is always a heightened accomplishment.
I do not imagine, at this time, that I will drastically change course and become a writer of local colour and inflection. That is not a goal that I embrace: doing so would seem oddly foreign to my voice and viewpoint. I remain, however, a daughter-in-spirit to this place:I truly love Ohio’s artistic urban vibrancy, and am proud to call the Buckeye state my home. We have both an outstanding artistic heritage and a lively, forward-thinking present. I choose to embody those ideas where the difference is greatest–through my actions, convictions, and life-style–rather than on the page. This way, my words and life are local-global, and remain my own.

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About maedez

Writer, biographer, poet. History nerd, silent movie maven. Punk rocker, amateur baker, bookworm. Cricket fan, Scotch drinker, craft beer snob.

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