This past weekend, I finally did the 24-Hour Zine Thing. Before, while and after I was doing it, I still felt it hard to explain to people who are not familiar with the zine community exactly what this challenge entails, mainly because not many of them could imagine anything that would be exciting enough for them to actually keep them awake for a whole 24 hours.
My mom asked me if there are any prizes at the end. I said, “Well, yeah! You get a pin that you completed the challenge, an overwhelming sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, and of course, your 24-hour zine.” Clearly, that’s not what she meant. I further explained that if she’s referring to cash prizes, that goes against everything the DIY zine community stands for. “We don’t use money to fuel our creativity. We use inspiration. We create for the sake of creating.”
This, along with some healthy food and lots of cups of herbal tea, is what kept me awake and alert throughout the 24 hours. I am a sleep addict, so I actually expected it to be much harder than it was. But since I’ve prepared for this challenge for a whole year, mentally, physically and nutritionally, I managed to pull through.
I came back home from work on Thursday evening at around 6:00 p.m. I tried to sleep a little before diving into the challenge, but I didn’t sleep too well… I don’t know if it was the excitement or what. But I finally got up at 8:50, set up my working space (i.e. my bed) and started writing at 9:00.
I alternated between my typewriter, Rose, and my pen. Especially as the night grew darker and people were sleeping, I didn’t want Rose to make too much of a racket.
The writing part was really my favorite. I got into the Zone more times than I could count. And I wrote much more than I expected.
A while back, I asked the organizers of the challenge what they meant by writing a 24-page zine in 24 hours. Is that 24 double-sided pages, which really means 48 pages? Or 12 double-sided pages, which is 24? They said it’s up to me.
So when I reached the 12 double-sided pages mark, I said it’s too early and it’s too easy, so I kept writing until the 24 page mark and banged out a 48-page zine (including the cover and the table of contents).
I finished the writing part at 3:30 a.m. and took a short food break and a tea refill.
Right before I started the layout, I noticed I had no glue. I get ready for this marathon for a whole year, and I forget the glue. That’s so me… So I had to settle for scotch tape which isn’t too practical when you have layers of background and collages. But I manged to make it work.
The layout is the longest but the most creative and challenging part for me. What I also love about working on the layout is that it doesn’t require as much concentration as writing, so I can listen to music while doing it. Again, because people were sleeping, I opted for my player instead of my stereo, and skipped whatever ballads shuffled into the mix, so that they won’t put me to sleep.
I started getting tired at around 4:00 or 5:00 a.m., but that was a momentary lapse, and my tea refills helped a great deal.
At 6:30 a.m. I decided to have a light breakfast and got some rice cakes with cheese. I sat at the dining room table and took no more than two bites before noticing a movement in the corner of my eye. Turns out that not everyone was asleep at my house. I shared my voluntary insomnia spree with a cockroach.
Luckily, the roach was far enough away from me, so that instead of screaming, I started whimpering, again, with an effort to not wake up everybody else.
The roach was in the area between my roommate’s room, my room and my bathroom (we each have separate bathrooms), so the first thing I did was close my bedroom and bathroom door, and sprinted back to the kitchen area. Before it could disappear, as roaches tend to do if you turn your attention elsewhere, I quickly grabbed a bug spray, which was made especially for ants, not roaches, and sprayed the fucker while whimpering and moaning my head off.
For a moment, the roach just stood there. I later told my boyfriend that it looked like the bug was mocking me: “Seriously? I can survive a nuclear bomb and you’re trying to kill me with ant spray?” Then, it looked like it actually hit him: “Holy shit! You really are trying to kill me with it! AAAAA!!” And finally started running with its ugly bug skitter, on its creepy skinny legs, and its long tentacles and antennas and whatever other freak anatomy it possessed. It ran along the crack of my roommate’s bedroom door, noticed it is too big and fat to fit under it, ran on underneath a pile of suitcases that were stacked up in the corner, and out of sight.
I was terrified as always, but I was more pissed off than anything. Why does shit like that always happen to me? Why is it that the only roachophobic person in this apartment is the first one to spot a cockroach? Why is she the only one there, or the only one awake in this case, to struggle between freaking out and taking care of the situation, then freak out some more, wondering if an ant spray actually managed to kill a big fat ugly motherfucking roach? And for fuck’s sake, WHY NOW? Out of all the times it could have picked to land on me, why did it choose to do it smack in the middle of my 24-Hour Zine Thing time and ruin the rest of my day?
I cursed in a whisper-scream and stomped my foot like a stubborn kid.
I never quite finished my rice cake, and looked to the corner every two seconds to make sure the roach wasn’t gonna come out again.
It took me about half an hour and my utmost strength to get back into my room because I had to pass by that stack of suitcases. I finally took several deep breaths, ran like hell and slammed the door.
I got back to work, but this time, I turned down the volume on my player to keep an ear out for anyone who might wake up.
At around 8:00 a.m. I heard my roommate’s mom walk out of her room. I called out to her without opening my bedroom door, afraid that the roach would choose that exact moment to leap in through the door. I asked her to take a look in the corner under the suitcases and check if there’s a dead cockroach there. Had she not done that, I would have stayed in my bedroom until somebody would come in and find me slimmed down to a thread, with a makeshift toilet in the corner. It’s a phobia, dude. Nothing else exists when I’m in the presence of the object of my fear.
Turns out the ant spray was strong enough to kill the roach. Hurray for me. Ughhh…
I kept on working with my music, my tea and my random short food breaks. By 6:00 p.m., I started getting very tired and this time, it didn’t go away. The tea lost its power. But I managed to pull through.
By this time, I had already started designing the cover. It was the last thing I had to do. I tried different designs, and it took me about four hours to complete. I finally came up with something that pleased me, then put the finishing touches and completed the zine about 20 minutes or half an hour short of 24 hours.
I brushed my teeth and crashed for a straight 14 hours. From Friday night at 8:30 p.m. to Saturday morning at 10:20 a.m. No joke. I don’t think I’ve ever slept for that long. I woke up like a zombie with my body buzzing all over.
Soon, I will be sending my zine to the organizers of the 24-Hour Zine Thing. I hope they like it. Because, roach incident notwithstanding, I so completely and totally enjoyed that experience!
Photos of the completed zine can be viewed here.
Peace, love and yes, I am considering doing it again next year!