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Apologies if this has been covered elsewhere but I wanted to get people's thoughts on the ethics of writing a perzine. Although I've done a few how-to zines and a zine of short fiction, I'm procrastinating like mad about getting on with my first perzine because of doubts about ethics.
Specifically, I want to be honest about the life experiences I cover, but I want to be fair to the people who were/are involved in my life without being too blaming or seeming to use the zine as a sort of revenge. Bit wooly I know, but what do you reckon?

Tags: ethics, fairness, honesty, perzines

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i'm struggling with similar things right now, as i'm writing about a break-up and the emotions that followed. i always change the names (or just use initials) of people involved in my life, and if there's a likely chance they'll read the zine, i try to be as fair and non-inflammatory as possible, while also being honest about my perceptions. good luck, i look forward to seeing the finished product!
in my opinion, a perzine is a place for YOU to write about how YOU feel which means it can be anything.
yeah, it's respectful to change names to protect privacy but as far as changing the story the point is to get it out the way it is..changing the story or trying to write it a certain way might not be as cathartic as just writing it the way you want to...
So long as you're being honest it shouldn't be an issue. You don't have to use real names (although unless they also do zines the odds are we'll have no idea who any of these people are anyways) but... you know what? Fuck it. It's your story from your point of view. You should be fair, but if you don't particularly feel like being fair then why should you be? It's not worth sacrificing personality or quality of writing just to be fair to someone you think fucked you over. Or if that does't work then just make it very thinly veiled fiction.

More than anything the thing that irks me about perzines are people who portray themselves as infallible Christ like figures who do no wrong. To read some of these zines you'd think every single thing that happens to them is no fault of their own.
Writing is all about life, and life is about people. We all write about the people and experiences in our lives,its just a matter of the degree of which you wish to veil the identifiable facts. For me, I find that simply changing the names was enough to throw those intended off the track. In fact, I couldn't believe some friends didn't know a story was about them when it seemed painfully obvious.

can someone define the term 'perzine' ? I've always wondered what it means exactly or where it came from? (incidentally I felt the same about the term 'emo'. I heard it around me and came to find I liked some of the music but the word was never mine and so I never could incorporate it into my own vocab)
"can someone define the term 'perzine' ? I've always wondered what it means exactly or where it came from? "

Perzine = Personal zine. A zine that is more or less about the author's life as opposed to being about music or sci fo or comics or any other subject. No idea where it came from. I assume it just evolved naturally.
Thanks for all the replies on this. All really useful in helping me move forward and firm up my approach to my zine. In particular I want to avoid the pitfall you mention, Eric, of acting the blameless victim. If anything, I hope doing the zine will be a chance to better understand my own role in creating the situations I've got myself into. Cheers

Ericfishlegs said:
So long as you're being honest it shouldn't be an issue. You don't have to use real names (although unless they also do zines the odds are we'll have no idea who any of these people are anyways) but... you know what? Fuck it. It's your story from your point of view. You should be fair, but if you don't particularly feel like being fair then why should you be? It's not worth sacrificing personality or quality of writing just to be fair to someone you think fucked you over. Or if that does't work then just make it very thinly veiled fiction.

More than anything the thing that irks me about perzines are people who portray themselves as infallible Christ like figures who do no wrong. To read some of these zines you'd think every single thing that happens to them is no fault of their own.
I guess I see the stories I tell as particulars that correspond to universals. There are universal themes that we can all relate to and I find that the best stories are those that can do that and make me feel like I'm along for the ride as an observer. The focus isn't the people, it is the story and how the story develops.

But I also have lots of great stories that will never be put in zines because I don't think they are appropriate... basically telling the story is more trouble that it is worth. I have used fake names and even initials once, but when it comes down to it, I want my story to stand on its own.

I don't know if that helped at all.
If I write about people who won't read it/don't know I'm writing about them I use and initial as their name, and leave out practical details that could identify them. I know other people rename people instead, so their privacy is respected.
Like I just wrote a long article about an extremely odd man who used to teach English at our school, but he's just Mr C, because his name is distinctive.
Yes, definitely. Thanks. I've written fiction in the past and I think that discipline of finding the general in the particular works, and in a perzine it helps avoid too much self-absorption hopefully.

Alex Wrekk said:
I guess I see the stories I tell as particulars that correspond to universals. There are universal themes that we can all relate to and I find that the best stories are those that can do that and make me feel like I'm along for the ride as an observer. The focus isn't the people, it is the story and how the story develops.

But I also have lots of great stories that will never be put in zines because I don't think they are appropriate... basically telling the story is more trouble that it is worth. I have used fake names and even initials once, but when it comes down to it, I want my story to stand on its own.

I don't know if that helped at all.
Cheers, Emma. I'm wondering about family though.

Emma Jane Falconer said:
If I write about people who won't read it/don't know I'm writing about them I use and initial as their name, and leave out practical details that could identify them. I know other people rename people instead, so their privacy is respected.
I live in a small town, and the worry for me is not what the person themselves will feel, but how it make affect our lives. that is a tough one, since I am considering publishing a zine about having an open relationship. My approach is to just get it all down and not worry too much about how yo're going to navigate all this treacherous stuff until afterwards. You can always censor or change it later.
An improtant thing to keep in mind is that the first priority should be the art of it, not getting revenge on people who have fucked you over. So when I write a comic where something particularly confronting happens, once I've finished I go back and question whether or not that scene is integral to whatever universal im trying to get across. if it is, I leave it in.

As for this new zine, I will change the names to decadent fancy names, like Balthazar and Penelope. Im considering distroing them in another country aswell. I wish I could also publish photos, but have decided to describe the images instead - what is noteworthy about them.

I think intention is important. and whether or not its your story or their story that you are telling. I often leave out their story, or just hint at the very basics. I make myself the central character. then peoplee will just accuse you of narcissism.

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