A personal zine is a zine whose focus is on the author's life. As could be imagined, this leaves quite a bit of room for interpretation, depending on the lifestyle and\or writing abilities of the author. Production quality also varies a lot.

The typical personal zine has things in common, however. It is usually produced with photocopying, and stapled together by hand. It usually has a print run of between a dozen and two hundred copies. With such a small print run, of course, and the fact that zines are not a big monetary item, most zine writers do not hope to make a profit or even to recoup their costs. Most personal zines are either traded through the mail with other zine writers, or are sold at independent record stores for a nominal cost (usually under a dollar). If you are lucky enough to live in Portland. OR, you can buy them at Reading Frenzy.

The technical details of what makes a personal zine done, I could describe the typical artistic merits of one, and I could do it in a rather uncharitable manner. There is a certain stereotype, even within the zine geek community, that personal zines are an excuse for people to vent their feelings. And while I have read a great many personal zines that are of the "I am an alienated teenager" or "my boyfriend just broke up with me" variety, I have also read plenty that were funny, insightful, and showed a great deal of skill of someone turning their lives events into meaningful writing.

Cast of Thousands, chapter 15

Marcy began to get excited. "We could have a fake advice column and make up horrible secret problems for people to have! Like being abducted by aliens or having multiple personalities!"

"Um... yeah," Jessie said uncomfortably, pulling at her hair. "Um, maybe not that one, though."

"What? I thought it sounded pretty weird."

"Yeah, well, um, you know how you thought it was weird that I had two moms?"

Marcy began to slowly turn bright pink. "Yeah..." she said, wishing that Jess wouldn't bring that up.

"Well, one of my moms is multiple." Jess began methodically twisting her hair tightly around one finger.

"What?" Marcy was baffled. "You mean, like... what? Okay. Okay, maybe we could, um, pick... a different... thing." A tear slowly rolled down her face.

Jess was appalled. "Marcy! What's wrong? Why are you crying?" She got down on the floor and put her arms around her friend.

"It's just... your mom... and your other... and I keep... being mean... and I don't mean to! Jess, I don't mean to be so stupid all the time and I'm just so stupid...." She clenched Jess' arm tightly, turning her face away.

"Oh, but you're not! You're not stupid at all! You're so nice, and you never mean... I didn't mean to make you feel bad!" Jess hugged her tightly.

"You didn't make me feel bad!"

"Really?" Marcy gulped. "I keep being afraid that I'll make you hate me forever or something."

"You haven't even done anything that bad," Jess said, a little tactlessly. "I mean, you're just being normal. That's... NORMAL."

"Really?" Marcy said, a little less certainly.

"Yeah. It's okay. It's not like you think things are bad just for being weird." Jess squeezed her.

"Thanks," Marcy said, rubbing her face dry with the back of her sleeve.

"So, like, I think an advice column is a really good idea," Jess said solidly. "And even the things you were saying would be good things to use. We could have silly questions or real ones, whatever we wanted, cause we'd be making them up. It would be fun."

"Yeah. See, that's what I was thinking! So... we'd have an advice column, and an opinion page like you had, and your thing on good places to be, and whatever other stuff we wanted?"

Jess nodded. "I like making lists of things to put in it cause they're good for filling small spaces. And cause I like making lists."

"We should be making a list of stuff to put in the zine," Marcy observed practically. She flapped her notebook open and began writing down everything she had listed. "Lists of stuff. What else? I could draw more pictures for it. Oh, and people on the street questions like we were saying."

"Someday we could have a page of letters to the editor."

"We could have one right now if we got people we knew to write to us." Marcy tapped her pencil against her front teeth. "Or wrote them ourselves, but we're already writing a lot."

"Yeah." Jess stretched, reaching her fingertips up toward the ceiling and wiggling them in the sunlight. "Make another list, of people to ask."

"Your parents, my parents, our friends... whoever you've given the first issue of the zine to." Marcy stretched too. "You know what? We should start working on stuff to put in it so we even have a zine to put the letters in."

"You're right!" Jess said, grabbing a pencil. "Okay... let's just start making stuff then and see how much we can write and draw before we get hungry or tired of working on it." Silence descended on the little bedroom. They grew so absorbed in their work that Missy entered unnoticed, slinking across the room to nestle in a sunlit fold of the beanbag. The rusty-motor sound of her purr slowly filled the silence.

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