The following is the result of a bet between myself, Josh Proctor, my friend Steve, and Drew. The meat of the matter is this: Over drinks some weeks ago I posited that Drew would not stand for the sort of editorial pummeling that he will, at times, gleefully inflict upon an unsuspecting submitter to spork. Drew repliedóI feel I should add, drunkenlyóthat he ďtotally wouldÖ Iíd have no problem with that. If someoneís got something to say and they can say it, then let them fucking say it.Ē Josh said, soberly, ďPut up or shut up, friend. Let me have a shot at you.Ē Steve watched quietly. He doesnít know Drew. I suggested something else: That Drew allow us to select, at our discretion, an editor to go over this section. He agreed, we shook hands all around the table, and that was that. What we didnít tell him, and what he wonít know until itís time to go to press, is that we selected Beth ToŽner, who in addition to being just a bit put off at having been cut from this issue in favor of Kelly Hellworth, due to space considerations, is also Drewís ex-girlfriend from years past. The stakes are this: if Drew does not publish, exactly, every word of what we have given him, he must paint a room in my house, Joshís house and Steveís house. He said, ďWhatís there to say?Ē and put on a smug little smile that would have made me want to hit him if I didnít already know what I was going to do.
     

Jason Ott, Contributing Editor

[Hi, Beth ToŽner here. My notes, in the style of an honest-to-god edit by Drew hisself, interspersed with whatís left of the original text, look like this. Just in case Drew tries to hide them, theyíre supposed to be in brackets, 11 point Courier New.]

 

 

 
 

íve still got a stack of Issue 2.2, well, stacks of pieces of 2.2 waiting to be bound, and itís already time to write this again. Am I that slow? I guess I must be. No matter. I guess the point is that Iím still binding, not so much what, just that I am. Weíre now in our third yearójust beginning in perceptual terms, but close to the end of the third in actual, since there was an Issue 0, the prototype of the idea (of which there are only three copies, Iíve got one and Richard has one and so does Aaron, and you can have mine if you want to give me thousands and thousands of dollars for it!). We go to press in just a couple of weeks [1] so Iíve got to get this written.[If thatís true then you went to press a month and a half ago. Where are the Sporks, mister? Youíve got to get this written so it can be proofed and out of the way so when all the other contributors—and yes,I am pissed that you pulled my piece—start sending in their proofs you wonít have to worry about your section. That is what you should have said. That is, if you absolutely had to say anything about it at all. It is not important when you wrote this. I understand that you donít know all the details about the binding involved until you actually start doing it, but thatís why you do prototypes, which I know you have done for this issue.]
      Iíve usually got some idea of what kind of things I want to talk about, what sort of irrelevant details are just so absolutely pertinent at that moment, all the ephemera concatenated into a scrawled whole (hole) dashed off at the last minute, usually on my porch, the beginnings of it a bunch of semi-incoherent notes jotted during the day at work, but usually it ends with the sky starting to pink and with me realizing Iíve got to wind it up somehow before I have to go back to work a couple of hours from then. The sun starts coming up and I start talking about binding. But honestly, this time, it feels just a little forced. Iím sitting here, planning to be spontaneous about whateverís been rolling about in my head, and that seems somewhat dishonest. [The reason it feels dishonest is because it is. Yes, you did write this all at once, but you planned the talk about planning to be spontaneous. Iím sure you languished for minutes over whether or not to cut this paragraph, and then had a little chat with yourself about how if youíre going to be honest, even when youíre lying, then you have to leave it as it is, warts and all, a big invisible (SIC) known only to you following every sentence.]
      Sam, the guy who runs Projekt (goth-darkwave-ethereal record label) sent out an e-mail a while back, in which he went on about how hard it is to do what he does. And then a few weeks ago I got another e-mail from the guy who runs 555 (indie record label, Boyracer and all those good folk) saying theyíre going on indefinite hiatus because itís just so hard and nobodyís doing business like they did in the good old days and blah blah blahÖ Things they started, things they loved, things they nurtured and then turned around and whined about how difficult it all is, like itís someone elseís fault. I mention those now (thereíve been so many others, but those bothered me the most) because I realized I was one foot and three toes on that same road myself. Iím not going to do that. I knew what I was getting into, I said, to those who said what I wanted was impossible, ďIím going to do it anyway,Ē and so thatís what Iíll say again. We are beautiful, we are wonderful, we are the best there is. We are the best not just because of what we do, but why we do it. We do it because itís not impossible. We do it to show you how to do it, we do it so youíll do it too. We do it because it should be done. You should do it too. Maybe youíll be the best there is, just like us. [2]
      Last week, I was standing in a classroom at our community college, up at the front, there to talk to a bunch of writing students about publishing and Vibrant Local Literary Scenes and such, and something just kind of turned over, both in my head and my stomach. [Okay, you big liar, I know for a fact that this is completely untrue. One: this was written a full two weeks before you went to talk to the students. Two: you didnít talk to just one class, you went to three. Three: I have a friend in the third writing class you spoke to, and not only were you not the callous ass you filled four pages here describing, you were kind, you were encouraging. You did not tell them that the best they could ever hope to aspire to is the level of hack. You did not tell them that cabinetry is a noble profession, you did not give them the number of the HR people for the telemarketers upstairs from the lab where you work. The real question here is why were you planning on going in like that? What did you really hope to accomplish by beating them all down? Do they pose a threat to you? Have they done anything to you besides maybe one of them sending you a submission you didnít like? Are you mad at them because theyíre in school and you never got to go because you couldn't ever afford it, because by the time it occurred to you that maybe it would have been a good idea to get some education you were too scared, too unsure of yourself to pit your unquantified, atrophied intellect against their fresher, younger, better-fed ones? (Is that a low blow? I donít know. Is it unfair to use personal knowledge and experience like this? I guess to be a good editor it would help to have that kind of insight. Hey baby, this is for your own good. Itís for the best, really.) And what, in the end, happened that made you say what you did? Iíll bet it was stage fright. No, I bet it was something else. Iím going to say that you got up in front of the students and remembered how you always wanted to be a teacher, and that thing that turned over in your stomach was your conscience, lashed along with your early dreams to an anchor and then buried and forgotten up to that exact point. You told that last class that they were the reason that Spork was made. For them, those kids like you, who didnít understand or really even want to understand how it all worked, and didnít have access anywayÖ Who had voices of their own but nobody listening to them. I donít understand this pose at all. The hard one I mean. Is it so difficult to just shrug and say that you wanted to go your own way, without attaching some big battle cry to it? And finally, how does it serve your high-falutiní ideal about creating a new system, a new school, outside the existing systems and schools, when you present yourself to those very people with whom you want to build this system/school as a complete jerk that nobody could ever work with? I have cut out the aforementioned four pages. I left the end of the last paragraph, because I like it.] And I also meant the part about disregarding the comments of assholes like me. I just get to say what I want because I have this space in which to say it. You can have it too. And how great would that be if there were journals out there set up for the express purpose of discrediting and vilifying me? That would kick fourteen-hundred and thirty-eight kinds of ass. Man, if there was an I-Hate-Drew club, Iíd pay my dues, Iíd chair the meetings myself. Iíd even bring cookies.[3] , [4], [5]
      In the last issue, I said we were going to do some big simultaneous publishing thing. We havenít done it yet, but weíre working on it. The response so far has been small, but still there. Iím thinking we should probably have our shit together by 3.2. Just an update. I was overly simplistic in my original formulation, and way too optimistic. I knew, on some level, that it was a whole lot more difficult than just doing it, but Iím still approaching it, on some other level, as though it really is that easy. Thatís how things get done, isnít it?
      Okay, Iím going to do this before sunrise. The book, this book:
      Through the issues weíve done thus far, Iíve experimented with a few binding methods, and a couple different ways to cover the books, [6] and with 3.1 Iíve decided to do a little blending of the [Hey look, it just breaks off! Youíre so damned clever. You with your ranting against cleverness, youíre so clever yourself. Yes, Iíll acknowledge that this is probably exactly how it happened, that you were writing and then what follows below happened, and you just switched gears, maybe even intending to go back and work in a comfortable segue. But you didnít. You just broke it and you didnít fix it later. That, my dear, is clever. Clever in a really boring way. Now, here, I wasnít going to talk about it, Iíd set myself some boundaries, I was going to respect at least one part of your pose, but I canít do it. Why are you doing this? Not the magazine, Iím not saying why the magazine. Iím saying this thing you do to your writing. Drew, you are a damned fine writer, but you go to exfuckingtraordinary lengths to hide it here. Youíve written two novels that Iíve readóand they arenít awful, like you love to say they are, theyíre just first drafts. Theyíre unfinished, is what they are. I know that you donít have much time, but they donít need much work. I love your stories, I love your poetry. Your friends have nothing but praise for you, but you wonít ever submit your work to anyone, wonít show your work to anyone but just a very few people. Youíre not afraid of rejection. I donít think youíd even understand it if you were rejected. So what is it? Iím not saying that what you write for Spork is bad, not saying that at all, since itís not, not really, not really at all. Iím saying itís just not you, not what youíre capable of. Iíd call it lazy if I didnít know how much work you put into it. Again, your incomprehensible pose. If it served a purpose Iíd support you in it, but itís time you were outed before you do yourself some irreparable harm.]
     Okay, so itís 2 in the morning and just a couple of seconds ago a motorcycle did some extreme acceleration that got punctuated by impact, finished off with a surprisingly long cascading trill of a shower of plastic and metal parts. Yeah, itís close. Itís 2 so itís quiet. Quiet so I could hear it all in the still, thin and cooling air. Now itís been as long as it took me to write those sentences and nothingís happened. Thereís a fire station right up the street. Somebody should be responding now. Iíve seen a couple of motorcycle accidents in my time, so thereís probably not much to do, but there should be somebody, there should at least be a siren or something. Fuck, I go a mile over the speed limit and Adams 1 through 36 are there in seconds, scribbling fines happilyÖ [See? That was really nice. I like that a lot. Youíre not putting as much effort into it as you used to do. Maybe I will call you lazy. And I didnít mention it there, but in your second paragraph you really didnít try at all.] Hang on, this shouldnít take too long.
      Miracle of paper: Ten minutes later: I knew right where to look, but there wasnít any motorcycle. Itís not like trying to figure out whether those cracks I hear every night are fireworks or guns, this was real specific. I circled the area and on my second pass saw remnants on the street. Hunks of parts, bits of plastic, a couple of puddles of something rainbow-surfaced on the asphalt. Something happened, but I couldnít see what.
      I pulled a U and looked. Maybe the guy flipped the median after hitting the back of a truck or something, and the truck sped off but the guy and his bike were on the island or the other sideÖ and then I saw in a parking lot across the street, right about even with the parts and puddles, a group of kids standing around a few modified imports. Acuras and stuff. The ones that have those mufflers to make them sound like motorcycles. I pulled around again and saw that sure enough one of them was smashed all to hell, and another was kinda beat up around the hindquarters. Drag racing. Gone bad for them this time. They got the cars off the road pretty quick and I guess theyíre still trying to figure out what to do before the Adams show up. I was going to cut around again and offer what assistance I could, but cruising, as I was, en el Paseo del Muerte, I figured theyíd want no help from the likes of me. Thatís my car right now, el Paseo del Muerte. Got it free. Got rid of the Volvo, gave it to the brother-in-law, got rid of the Nissan, got a big, new sedan with a huge warranty that covers everything so I donít have to worry, so Andrea doesnít have to work her magic of electrical tape and twist ties (which brought the Volvo back from the dead, Iíll have you know, which did what the dealership mechanics said couldnít be done), so when it breaks, as it must, thereís a crew set aside specifically for us, and even if they never fix it, they give us another car just like ours (or better) so it doesnít even matter. El Paseo del Muerteís getting all the personality upgrades, weíre not going to bother getting attached to the new one. They always end up hurting us, itís just how it is. It doesnít even have a name. Weíre not going to get attached. So long as it does its job and doesnít complain, weíre going to get along just fine. All I have to do is figure out how to pay for it.
     Insert a comfortable segue hereÖ [There you go, being clever again. Lazy and clever. Maybe cleverly lazy.]
     
I had a Peugeot, back in í91, a diesel, automatic. Looked like a Saab, you know the type. Slug on wheels. So my then-girlfriendís [ďThen-girlfriendĒ? ďTHEN-GIRLFRIENDĒ?!? Thatís all you say about her? Thatís the billing she gets? Five fucking years of your life and you just call her the ďTHEN-GIRLFRIENDĒ? I know itís not like she and I were exactly friends or anythingóand I donít know whatís worse, that you cheated on her with me, or that you then turned around and cheated on me with heróbut I think that if youíve got the balls to even mention her in such a way that sheóand not just her, but a whole lot of people in SoCalócan easily recognize her, you owe it to her to give her something better than ďTHEN-GIRLFRIENDĒ. And I just said all that fucking nice stuff to you, I just said I loved your fucking work, I just saidÖ God, Drew, you are such an asshole.] stepfather, M—óhe was an electrician and I helped out on jobs, fending off housewives while trying to install new outlets in their bungalows built in the 30s when nobody would ever need more than one outlet in a roomóM— and I, we dropped out the engine, threw in a Chevy small block and a manual transmission, replaced the fuel system, and basically made it the Slug from Hell. We were going to redo the differential, but then M— got murdered. (That was later, and thatís a whole other story.) I couldnít beat you off the line, but I wasnít trying to. I had it in the upper thousands, and if you gave me at least a quarter mile you were fucking toast. You had to have nitro, you had to have something. You couldnít have stock, and you couldnít have pussed out on your heads or cams, since we hadnít. We got the stuff freeópart of the whole other story, yeah, drugs were involvedóso we got the best available. We carved out a scoop for the blower in the slanted hood (and if we didnít care whether or not it looked like a Peugeot anymore we would have put it right up top, but as it was we routed it off to the side and then to the front, giving up some performance, but not much; the Chevy block sat further back than the Peugeotís engine so we had room for the intake up front), had to reconfigure the interior somewhat to accommodate the new soul, and we never did get around to reupholstering or anythingóthe dash was held on with drywall screwsÖ the thing wasnít street legal anymore, not by a long shot, so I had to make friends with a mechanic whoíd overlook the illegality and smog it for me so I could get it registered. Again, drugs. I was just 19 then, so I couldnít buy him a few beers, but I was able to get him fifty bucks of coke pretty easy. I didnít even have to go through M—óhe wouldnít have approved anyway, seeing how I was dating his stepdaughter and all [Still you say nothing about her. Make her so peripheral, make her unimportant. Why do you mention her at all in this? Itís not important that the M— guy was her stepfather. Heís just some guy you worked with. Thatís all you need to say. You place her in here, and then incompletely. That makes me think youíre doing it on purpose, like youíre trying to convince yourself of something. Trying to rewrite your history in a place where most people wonít know any better. I was going to just cut it out, it pissed me off so much, but I left it in because now Iíd rather yell at you in front of everyone and watch you get really quiet and just stare at your feet because you never know what to say to anyone when youíve made them angry at you. Let everyone in the room call me a bitch, but at least the ĒTHEN-GIRLFRIENDĒ, if she ever even sees this, can know that at least someone said something, know that you didnít get all the way away with it. This is not me saying that it would matter that much to her now, especially considering who it is saying it, this is me saying it because itís important to me. You just talk about the car, for Godís sake. You are not allowed to talk about her again, not like that. If you want to talk about her, you do it right, you give her the space she earned by putting up with your bullshit for five years.]. We even retreaded some tires and put four inches of slick in the middle in case I had to race. We were such cheaters. I didnít get to race much, [Which was fortunate for you, wasnít it? Your nasty slug caught fire the first time you took it out, then blew its hoses, then threw its belts, then blew its rear tires, then dumped the dashboard in your lap and sent you (slowly) into a wall. You only really opened it up twice. It was a neat idea, Iíll give you that, but I wonít let you pretend like it ever really worked all the way.] nobody wanted to be seen going up against my little European caróeverybody was still domestic there, everyone still laughing at the then-laughable Nissans and Hondasóand then one day while I was out with the girlfriend, M— traded my Peugeot for a camper-trailer. Like it was his or something. And then he got murdered. They found him out in the desert, beaten and poisoned and left to die. Dead when they found him. Oh, I didnít do it. Not me. Thatís just the order of events. Yes, drugs were involved. All I wanted was a car. He still owed me for four months of electrical work at $42.50 an hour, 40 hours a week (thatís what he charged for me, on top of his $85 an hour rate).[7] [Iím finding it hard to understand why Iím so angry at youóam I afraid for my own billing? That if someone who occupied so great a space in your history gets shunted off to the side so easily, that Iíll be erased completely? We all like to think weíre special, did that ever occur to you? Even if we donít head the list of thank-yous, we still like to think that the time was not entirely wasted. Maybe that was all about me. ďMiracle of paper:Ē the next day: No. That wasnít all about me. I thought, for just the tiniest of moments, of going back and reworking my blowup, but Iíve got a deadline on this, I donít have the months to sit and pick away at this and then say it was all slammed down ŗ la Kerouac on a single sellotaped roll in some stupid bennyfueled spurt (lie: it was careful and slow, he was careful and slow, that jerk JackóI thought it was common knowledge by now, but every wave of incoming college freshmen has its coterie buying into the myth). I do have to do this quickly. I do have to have this done in just a couple of days. You, my supposed fellow anti-Beat, talking the talk but then striking the Beat pose when it suits you.]
     
Oh, binding. Anyway, Iíve been stepping up the difficulty with each issue, and Iím thinking thatís not the way to go. 2.1 was the most difficult of all, seeing how we had to completely cover the boards, then sew through not just the text block itself, but the hinges of the covers too. What the hell was I thinking? Iím thinking now that Iím a moron. [No argument here. Different reason, of course, but no less true. Drew, honey, dearest doll, baby, we all love your self-indulgent ramblings, but you said it yourself at the beginning of this one that you recognized that you were doing it consciously now, no longer just getting distracted and wandering away from the point of your section. You could have at least begun this one with talk of binding, then rambled off as usual. Maybe youíd like to try that next time, hm?]
     
The first three issues were all a kind of modified-perfect binding. I originally used a hacksaw to make angled cuts along the spine (one book at a time!), then graduated to a 3.5Ē circular saw and a press-box I made myself, with the kind assistance of Brian Arnold and his plasma cutter and various torches, that holds up to 15 text blocks, cutting as many blocks in probably 1/30th of the time it took me to load and cut just one the old way. Issues 2.1 and 2.2 were all drilled, 2.1 with 4 holes, then the first half of 2.2 with seven and the second half with just four, after I realized that the extra holes werenít doing anything for me or my drill or the books. And when I drill them, I can only do two at a time. Slow slow work, not a problem unless youíre making hundreds of books. Which, in fact, we are.
     So this issue is bound old-school style. Since, you know, improvements and upgrades sometimes arenít either. No matter how many people we got in here to do the binding on the more complicated issues, it just never quite worked out. [This might be a good place to mention those people. The ones I know of: Sommer Browning helped with issue 2.1, Kaylee Hammonds helped on 2.1, Amy Harrington also on 2.1, and then Rachel Simon, sheís been there a while too, how about you give them some credit and thanks? I think Rachel bound as many copies of 2.2 as you did. This isnít really a solo project anymore. I know you never intended for it to be, but youíve consistently forgotten to mention the people who sometimes will come in at 5 or 6 in the morning to make the books with you. Here, Iíll say it for you: Thank you Sommer, Kaylee, Amy, Rachel and any others I donít know about. Spork is forever in your debt, and maybe someday Drewíll see fit to offer some kind of tangible thanks. And no, Drew, Iím not going to help you make this issue. Maybe if I were in it, maybe if I hadnít been promised x number of pages and then told at the last minute, when Iíd already worked for months to get the piece ready for you, that there simply wasnít any roomóand is that unprofessional? I donít know, I donít do this sort of thing myself, but something about it doesnít really seem all that right. I know weíre pals and all, in a way, but Iím not as understanding as you seem to think I am. Tell you what weíre going to do, how youíre going to make it up to me: Once upon a time you waltzed into Plush, sat down at my table while Becky and I were having a conversation thatóI know, I know, itís unbelievableódidnít have anything to do with you, and you said, ďYou know what would be really neat? To serialize your book, to just publish like thirty pages at a time, and not like groups or sections, but just thirty pages, and if thereís a sentence that finishes on page 31 then they gotta wait till the next section to find out how it endsÖ we could mail it out, we could, I donít know, but it would be really neat.Ē Thatís what youíre going to do. Youíre going to make it available. Maybe you can do a subscription thing, mail it to the people that want it. Iíll leave that up to you. Youíll do that binding you did when you played with the idea, the simple stitch with the plain covers that you just tape shut and write the address on. I wouldnít even know about it if you didnít show it to me and Becky that night, but you did, and thatís what I want. Now itís written, so it must be true, right? You have to do it. Iíll give you some time to get this issue going, but then you are going to do my book just like we talked about, right? Yes sir, damn straight, damn skippy, you bet you will. Oh, I cut a couple of paragraphs that didnít have anything to do with binding, and werenít as interesting as your bits in past issues. We lost a couple of footnotes too, but they werenít all that interesting either. I like when you talk about your daughters. The thought of you having two daughtersóyouíve got to know where Iím going, how they say guys like you are given daughters as a punishment for being guys like you. Iíve seen you with Trillian and it gives me the nicest little giggles when I think about what a wreck youíre going to be when your beautiful little girls arenít little girls anymore.
     Weíll take it up again at:] Some of you may have noticed that half of the covers for 2.2 were plexiglas, and half of them were raw bookboard with a crude block print on the front that said, simply, spork 2.2. The reason for that, as stated on the back inside cover of the bookboard ones, was that the plexi got really expensive. The original quoted price was wrong, with the actual price being almost three times that, but still workable, but then the manufacturer stopped making it, [8] replacing it with a higher-quality product that, while, sure it was better, was twice as expensive as the stuff I needed. The stuff I wanted, I mean, since I needed the replacement product just as much. The manufacturer didnít understand what I was talking about when I said I was using it to make books. I said, Iím using it for the covers of books, and they said, What sort of book has plexiglas pages? It went on for a while, and Iím not going to put in the whole conversation. Iím getting frustrated all over again. It also forced me to rely on my friend Bear to do the cutting, and though he was always great about it, I was never able to purchase enough of the plexiglas at one time so we could do the cutting in just one or two days, and I didnít want to keep bugging him to cut just one or two sheets at a time for six months. Iíve got nothing to offer but my thanks, and, well, my thanks donít pay your rent. Sometimes it might buy you coffee or a beer, or maybe lunch, but thatís not really enough.
     What I ended up doing was just moving ahead and doing what I was planning to do for issue 3.1, this issue. I didnít think Iíd make as many as I did, else I would have cut a better block for the cover, but things happened the way they did and thatís how it all went down and thatís what I did. Made a bunch of them.
     This time Iíve got my helpful assistant Rachael working with me on it. Up to this point Iíve been pretty grabby and selfish, doing most of the interesting work myselfógranted, itís all been difficult stuff that I couldnít afford to make any mistakes on, since I didnít have any replacement pieces, meaning that no matter what happened to each book it had to go out, and I didnít want anybody to feel bad if something got screwed up. Iíd rather take the blameÖ but thatís not interesting for people. I guess youíd get really good at one thing, and so long as I had some future wax-off thing for you it might serve a good endÖ but that wasnít how it was going. So Rachael and I are both cutting blocks for the cover print for 3.1. Weíre cutting the same image, itís just two different people doing it, since, you know, thatís pretty cool. We donít have a press, so the way we print the covers is to ink the block, put it face-down on a piece of board on the floor and then jump on it. Weíre using mounted linoleum, so thereís no worry that weíre going to wreck them. The mounting stuff also serves to distribute our weight more evenly too. Weíre going to use whatever inks weíve got on hand, which is 4 different colors, Iím thinking, not really sure, and Rachael and I cut all the spines (the cloth parts of the spines that hold the three pieces of the covers together) out of all the different kinds of linen bookcloth in the studio, meaning weíve got lots of different colors of those too. 5 colors cloth, 4 colors ink, equals 20 possible combinations. Thatís right, isnít it? Jeez, even simple math confuses me.
[It does when youíre drunk anyway, like you were when you wrote this.]
     
Hereís a quick recap of the binding process for this issue: The printed pages are gathered into groups of five sheets (20 pages) and folded. The folded groups (signatures) are collated and the art product inserted (randomly this time, we didnít set aside a section for it, Richard just wanted to insert it whereverÖ that sounds like a pain, sounds like extra work, but I did simplify the rest of the process, so why not ratchet up the difficulty for consistencyís sake?), the endpapers put on the ends (where they go), and then set aside. This whole thing is the text block. Then weíll take some number of text blocks, 10-15, and place them in the press box with a piece of bookboard between each block. The box will be tightened, but not so tight that the pages become more dense than wood, and Rachael or I will take the little Black and Decker cordless circular saw and make 4 one-half-inch deep cuts perpendicular to the spines of the blocks. PVA (polyvinyl acetate, glue product) will then be forced into the cuts, followed by some cord, which Rachael or myself will violently encourage deep into the cuts with this big paint scraper thing Iíve got in the studio. The cord will be followed by more glue, then maybe some glue all over the spines, to keep them together, and then the whole mess will be removed from the box and each individual text block will be cut from the rest with a razor or something. They are then set aside, if the covers arenít yet made, or put right into the covers if they are. Letís assume theyíre not.
      For the covers, we have cut bookboard into pieces measuring eight and thirteen sixteenths inches by six and five eighths inches for the fronts and backs, and smaller strips measuring eight and thirteen sixteenths by three quarters of an inch for the spines. The spines are pasted in the center of a four by eleven inch piece of book cloth, with the cover boards pasted three quarters of an inch on either side. The top and bottom of the cloth are folded over and pasted down and then the thingís set aside to dry.
      Okay, now there are blocks and covers. The endpapers may or may not have been trimmed on one side of the fold to line up with the book cloth on the inside of the spine. I donít know yet. Itíll look better if we do it that way, butÖ okay, so we take covers, lay them in front of us, then throw down some glue. No, we donít do that. We glue the part of the endpaper that meets the cover, then glue one side in, press it down. Then flip the book overóitís a book now, you knowóand apply glue to the endpaper there and press it closed. And thereís a spork. All finished and beautiful. Complete, I mean, since we didnít do any finishing work on the cut edges of the boards or where the cloth meets the board. Itís all rough, and we like it like that. [All that was fine. See how I didnít say anything? Iíll say again that I think for future sections you should just focus on the binding, and then when you wander, let it come from something in the process that sets you off. Weíre getting kind of long here, and donít think I didnít consider cutting out your entire section and then telling you there just wasnít room for it in this issue, So sorry. But I didnít do that. I only cut maybe five and a half pages total. Maybe seven or eight, since you did lose a lot of footnotes. Something else you should know, Iíll give credit where itís due: I talked this over with Jason, I showed him what I wrote, worried a bit to him that maybe all my yelling and screaming wasnít entirely appropriate (more truthfully that it made me look like an unreasoning, whining bitch), but Jason said, once he got up off the floor where heíd fallen from laughing so hard, that itís perfect just as it is. He said I shouldnít worry. Iím getting what I want out of it anyway, so I wonít. Iíve decided to cut your last five paragraphs, they just reeked of resolution, and I know how you hate resolution, and apropos of editing in the style of Drew, Iíve just removed them. Final note to people who havenít had the supreme pleasure of being edited by Drew: his process is conversational (one-sided, of course), focusing less on the bits and pieces of a thing and more on what the hell do you think youíre doing anyway, why youíre bothering at all, often wondering who hurt you so very badly at some point to make you say something like you didÖ donít get me wrong, Iím not bashing the process, itís effective as hell. Itís just blunt, radical, a kind of surgery without prep or anesthesia. And not always necessary. Heíll cut out entire sections, rewrite othersóalways saying with the rewrites, ďMaybe something like this, huh? Thatís what you were trying to do, right?Ē and knowing no such thing. ďWell, you askedÖĒ And thatís right. I did. Itís just that he sometimes gets a little proprietary over things heís edited, will get quietly pissy if you donít take his advice. ďHow can you know whatís best for this? You wrote it.Ē A statement I simultaneously understand and donít. Often with short stories his commentary will exceed the length of the piece heís supposed to be editing. In the interest of conservation of remaining space, I didnít include my rewrites, since itís best to have the original sitting alongside and thereís no room for that. I have cut liberally, and sometimes vindictively, but I did not reach my goal of having more words in Drewís piece than he did. And thatís that. Iíve chopped you up and Iím happy. Iím not mad at you anymore. Donít forget my book, donít forget what you said youíd do. I expect to see something on your site about it right away. Iíve got the first four sections ready, so you just call me and Iíll get them to you. Itíll be one of those things for Spork Press. Oh, I cut that out. Yeah, Drew and Richard are working on books by single authors too. The first three are books of poetry. Then thereís going to be a novel, other than mine, but I donít know whose it is. Probably you donít either, and are just pretending like you do. Maybe youíd like to give me a crack at Methylchloroisothiazolinone, I could edit it for you. I still think itís quite good, just sloppy. The main problem would be solved by just introducing your big metaphor, that way you wonít have to worry that you buried it too deep for anyone to figure out. And you did bury it too deep. So deep itís in some other book altogether, on some other shelf in some other store on another continent where they donít speak your language. Like Richard said, you need to give your readers handholds. It can be done. Itíd take a lot of work, but Iím four serials ahead right now, so Iíve got time. You let me know.
     Cheers, baby.

     

Beth ToŽner]


NON BET-BREAKING END NOTE:

Imagine yourself coming in to the studio, all ready to bind. Imagine doing steps one through, oh, say, four in the process, and then discovering that step five doesnít work, because there were some flaws in the assumptions made about the earlier steps. Those flaws centering mainly around the idea that it would all come off without a hitch. Those assumptions based upon previous experience, said experience gained in Issues 1.1 through 1.3, where the same binding was employed. Imagine yourself, behind schedule, all afire to get things going, having suddenly to figure out just what the hell youíre going to do. What you hold in your hands is the product of all that imagining on my part. The talk of the box and the saw needs to be discarded from the above, and talk of each copy having four holes drilled through the cover and block, and then a nice quick stitch run between the spine and the front and back covers inserted. Iím actually happy that it happened, since the binding this way is not only better, but more interesting, more fun, and more aesthetically pleasing than what had previously been intended for this issue. It uses no glue, which I like, and allows the books to open more freelyóalbeit still not laying flat, which is something I cannot accomplish on our time and money budget of pretty much nothingóand have, Iím thinking, a satisfying sort of pull that you just donít get when adhesives are involved. Some may cry foul at my adding to the section, clearly against the stated rules of the bet involved in this issues section, but Iím thinking not, since itís at the end, and whatís more, itís absolutely necessary, as the above does not apply to the final product. So cry if you must, but Iím not painting anybodyís anything. I do wish that Iíd written a more complete section, wish Iíd taken the whole thing seriously, but I canít do anything about it now. I hope you enjoyed this. The issue, Iím saying.


 
 

[1] Maybe someday Iíll elaborate on what exactly I mean when I say that, since it doesnít mean what most people mean when they say that theyíre going to press. There are some people who know, and you can probably figure it all out yourself, if youíre the banal-mystery-solving type; itís not like itís a big secret, itís just not something I like to talk about, even though Iím sort of talking about it right here.

[2] We started this with a Frankenstein computer I cobbled together myself (AMD K6-2 400 MHz, 128 MB RAM, onboard graphicsóread: slow refreshóand a 6 GB hard drive), a refurbished Brother laser printer, a hacksaw and some glue. Now weíve got a used Compaq Armada 3500 laptop (PII 266 MHz, 128 MB RAM, and again a 6 GB hard drive), two Brother HL-1850 laser printers (thatís what I mean when we say weíre going to pressÖ going to press the little print buttonóI guess the secretís out then, isnít it?), a bunch of different kinds of thread and cord and cloth, lots of bookboard, four bone folders and a few more cutting tools than we had before. Oh, and more glue. Always lots and lots of glue. Weíve declined every opportunity to outsource any aspect of the workókeeping it real, yoóand make as many as we can with whatever resources we have available. I mean locally, in our hands or pockets or heads or houses.

[3] I donít, it should be noted, hate myself at all. Not a bit. I love me. Me me me. Love love love. But if you could define something by its absence, by existing as its opposite, wouldnít you do it? [No, and you wouldnít either. You do something else entirely. You played with it for a while, but itís not really a possible thing. Iím not saying that itís impossible, because I know youíve got your thing about that. Iím saying that it just doesnít work, that possible and impossible arenít words that can be used for that. Remember how we talked about it, back in what, 1994? Remember how youíre the one that said that itís not possible or impossible, how people just donít work like that no matter how convenient it would be if they did? Iím okay with the general sentiment, but you could lose the last line, and keep in mind your actual thinking on the topic when you discuss it again. There are other, better directions to go, and really, the defining-by-absence thing is a bit of a cop-out, a nonexistent shortcut for someone who just wants to look like theyíre doing something.]

[4] Okay, hereís a funny story: David and I were out a few weeks ago, grabbing a couple drinks after working really late (did I mention that Davidís in that writing class? I didnít, but he isówhen people found out that I was going to go speak to a writing class, they asked how they could get in to watchÖ I thought they were just being kind of stupid at the time, but I guess there was some reason behind it; not that I provided all that interesting a show, not that I really wanted to be observed thusÖ but in my defense, I will say that I was much better behaved when speaking to the three other classes), and so we were sitting in a booth at the bar, and the group of three girls and one guy sitting in the booth behind David start talking about literary crap. They were students themselves, I guess. Well, the girls were anyway. The guy had him an MFA, by gum. Anyway, they start talking about journals, about whoís doing what and who wants to be published where, and one of the girls says something about spork.
      “Letís not even go there,” the guy says.
      The girl who went there wants to know why.
      ďTheyíre cool and all, I guess, but they know how cool they are, you know? Theyíre being all cool on purposeÖĒ
      Like thatís a fucking bad thing, you moronÖ
      ďAnd the guy that does the binding, that Bork guy, heís just too fucking arrogant. He admits right in there that he doesnít know shit about writing, but then he writes at inexcusable length about shit nobody cares aboutÖĒ
      ďI think itís cute,Ē one of the girls says.
      ďYeah, real fucking cute. Heís arrogant. Heís an arrogant bitch, thatís all.Ē
      I donít think I could have said it better myself.
      Hereís the funny part. Weíve had a couple of drinks already, and David, he knows heís going to get aggressive and loud, so he starts up on it before heís even drunk enough for it to kick in. He turns around and says to them, ďYou know Drew Burk? I know that guy, I hate him! Heís a fucking asshole!Ē
      The guy looks happy, ďYou know him?Ē
      ďYeah, I work with the dick. And youíre right, he canít write. I have to proof all his shit for him before he puts it in his gay little magazine, he doesnít know shit about grammar, canít spellÖĒ and then he just laughs.
      The guy gives a look to the girls, gesturing toward David, showing them that heís not alone. They look to me.
      I shrug. ďI just build houses. Iím not into that poetry stuff. Thatís his thing.Ē
      So yeah, start a club. Iíll bake a cake.
      [I like your story, and oddly enough, I was able to verify it. What I have to say about it isnít so much an edit of the content itself, but an edit of you. This was an opportunity for you to explain your ideas, and Iím not saying to defend yourself, but to rise to this occasion and make that guy understand what youíre trying to do. It would have made you look even better in the girlsí eyesóand I know that if nothing else will motivate you, that willóbut you just blew it off, just totally blew it, choosing instead to strike your incomprehensible pose again.]

[5] Iím on my back patio. Somebodyís standing on the other side of my fence. Iím all tense and ready for a fight. My daughterís upstairs and nobody, but nofuckingbody, is going to mess with us. Iím waiting, and whoever it is, theyíre pacing the fence.
      A few minutes laterÖ
      ďHey,Ē I said, all polite like with a shovel in my hands, ďYou wanna step the fuck away from my house?Ē The guy grunted, said, Huh, and stomped away. You probably donít figure this just reading my little rants, but Iím kinda scary. If I read my stuff not knowing it was me writing it, Iíd figure the author for a short guy who never got the girl, except that one unlucky girl he had the good sense to impregnate and wed. But no, I know itís me, and Iím 6í3Ē, 180 pounds, can run an easy 5-minute mile, bald, with good arms that can throw a deadly right, and an at least debilitating left. Sure, David knocked me out the first time we fought, but Iíve gotten better since then. Anyway, Davidís my friend, I didnít start really fighting until he caught me one to my left templeóbecause I wasnít guarding well at allóbut by then it was too late for me to really do anything of much use. Point is Iím a scary looking fucker with a lifetime of vocal training that allows me to be not only physically intimidating, but aurally terrifying when need be. Iím not huge, but Iím big enough, hear? And for the record, I always got the girl. [Thereís so much I could say here, but Iím going to hold my pretty little tongue. I let the others say it.]

[6] The binding is how the inside is held together, the cover is the cover; when someone says that a book is hardbound, even when I say it, that doesnít actually mean anything. Hardback, now that means something. It means the cover is not paper, means itís board or wood or something. There are sewn bindings, there are milled and glued bindingsÖ itís a semantic thing some people will probably take issue with, but Iím all about things meaning what theyíre supposed to mean, unless thereís good reason for me to mean something else. But that still wouldnít change the fact that hardbound doesnít mean anything, no matter how many times I said it on purpose.

[7] I am such a liar. He only owed me for 25 bucks an hour. He charged $42.50, but I had agreed to 25. I wasnít going to complain, I didnít care how much he made, there wasnít any other job I could get at 19 that would pay more than 5 or 6 bucks an hour, if I was lucky.

[8] Which happened before, not with plexi, but this stuff called Excel which was this weird yellow-white compressed paper product that was so easy to cut, so porous and easy to glueóthough you had to be very careful to thoroughly impregnate the stuff with glue and let it dry for a hell of a long time or else it would warpóbut for which I seemed to be the only customer in the world, and which did result in me getting a killer price on the last of it here in town.