In just a couple of weeks I’ll be tabling for the first time at a couple grassroots bookfests: first, on September 28, at the Pachanga de Palabras; then, the following weekend at the San Antonio Zine Fest on October 5.
I’ve got three DIY books in the works that I’m feverishly trying to get ready, for now pushing from my mind the possibility that none of them may be ready in time:
First is a revamped second edition of Lisazine: A Reverse Chronology, a zine I produced back in 2010 to memorialize a friend of mine from high school who passed at the age of 27. With the help of design maven Monica Velasquez, I’m redoing the layout so that it’s less sloppy and slapdash.
Second is a chapbook called I Call on the Earth, created in collaboration with local printmaker and book artist Léo Lee. This is a collection of ten poems that emerged as I was interviewing residents displaced from Mission Trails Mobile Home Community for what eventually became a report on the impacts of that displacement, released by Vecinos de Mission Trails. Léo is an amazing visual thinker and is doing all layout, visual interpretation of the poems, illustration, and printing. Our plan is to produce a really well-crafted chapbook whose proceeds will go back into anti-displacement organizing in San Antonio, as well as a more quick-and-dirty set of broadside posters that right-to-the-city activists can use however they see fit. The poems came out of the collective work of organizing, and both of us feel strongly that if they can return to the earth of that work and give back to it, they should.
And third is a collection of my writings on pregnancy, miscarriage, and birth called The Book of Xochitl and Wolfgang: Adventures in Reproduction. This one I did completely DIY, from layout to visual design, printing, and stitch binding, which is still in progress. As someone accustomed to thinking about books solely in terms of the words that fill the pages, figuring out how to produce a book as physical object involved a pretty significant, months-long learning curve–but a fun one!
For layout and booklet pagination, I used a little app called Create Pages 2. It’s not free, but it’s not expensive either ($10 USD) for the necessity of the otherwise-confusing labor it performs in the bookmaking process.
To figure out how I wanted to bind my book, I watched a lot of YouTube tutorials before settling on kettle stitch binding. These videos in particular were useful to me:
I’m not yet at the stage of gluing the cover on—still stitching the book signatures together to make text blocks. Every morning for the past couple weeks, I’ve been getting up and retreating first thing to the back room, where I recently moved my desk and files. I plop the baby down onto the rug with a few books and toys, pop a cassette into the player, and sew. Previously I would work out in the open, at the dining room table, and it’s been really nice to have a space of my own with a door that shuts. Feels like some kind of return to myself, sewing zines and listening to mix tapes.