CURRENTS, according to Google, is defined as “…moving in a definite direction, especially through surrounding bodies in which there is less movement”, and by the dictionary as “popular; in vogue”. It’s a bit of a play on words, as we’ll be discussing art in the wake of current events: the brave and the bold that are the driving force of empathy where fear threatens us into stagnancy. Curated by Leah Lu, writer/illustrator for Local Wolves based in Los Angeles, Currents will focus on featuring the latest and greatest goings-on to keep an eye out for, the hearts and minds of the people behind them, and an array of comprehensive reviews. Stay plugged in for a sporadic collection of ravings over happenings about town (and the internet). You can find Leah on Instagram or Twitter. Dialogue, fresh ideas, and hot takes are all wanted and welcomed here.
LINA ABASCAL: A HEADACHE FROM CRYING
There’s a viral tweet that reads: “i delete my tweets because i’m not the same person i was 5 minutes ago”. The impulse post and immediate regret is a phenomenon I can relate to embarrassingly closely, so when I saw a Facebook event promoted on a graphic with a pink silk background called “Tweeting & Deleting: Readings by Women”, it instantly peaked my interest. The event is intended to be a safe space to share writing, celebrating the release of Lina Abascal’s zine, “A Headache from Crying”, a collection of personal essays. The reading and Valentine’s Day Party will feature a lineup of all female-identifying writers including Abascal, sharing pieces of fiction, poetry, essays, and more surrounding the theme of love. I talked to Lina about her zine, writing, and Tweeting & Deleting, which will take place on Wednesday, February 15 at Junior High in Los Angeles.
For those of us who are new to your work, can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you’re involved in?
LA — Hey! I’m Lina Abascal. I’m a 26-year old writer born and raised in LA. I started writing when I was 14 in 9th grade for a DIY punk newspaper I found on Melrose because I was in a really dark place in high school with few friends and no hobbies and loved going to concerts. From there I started to write for more magazines in the sort of Myspace-era scene/emo world. Think a Warped Tour version of the movie “Almost Famous”. I moved to SF for college to study journalism and had a dance music and culture website that did alright and a YouTube show. That’s when I got super into Tumblr/Twitter/Internet culture in the way that I am now. In 2012, I decided to bail on grad school at the last possible second and moved to New York to pursue a job in journalism because that’s the best place to be for that. In NY, I wrote features and blogs for sites like VICE and Complex and met a lot of amazing other writers and media people, a lot from Twitter. Over the last three or so years I have been working full time at tech startups, right now one called Bumpers which is a podcasting app. At first, I really felt like a failure or a sellout when I got my first tech job in NY, but since then I’ve learned a lot about my skillset and interests and that you don’t have to be the person you wanted to when you were a teenager. The fact that now the only time I write is when I want to and I can choose to make money off of it or release it for free has given me so much freedom and inspiration. When I wrote listicles or news blogs all day, I had the title of a “full time writer” but was so uninspired and burnt out that I rarely wrote things I was proud of. I much prefer my current situation of working in marketing and content and still writing if/when I want. This zine is the first time I have released written work in almost two years. I hope the inspiration stays because I already have an idea for a second zine, but if it doesn’t, at least I have the ability to wait until it does again and not force it.
Creating a zine is something that you’ve said is a little bit out of your comfort zone in terms of it being an unfamiliar medium. What drew you to publish your essays in a zine format?
LA — Yeah, I discussed that a little in a Bumpers episode here. I got a really positive response to the two essays I put on Medium so that inspired me to do more. I was blown away by how many people read it and how many personal, direct messages I got from a crazy array of people. I was not knowledgeable about the process of creating physical work like a paper zine. It’s a big process, a lot more work than just hitting publish on Medium. That being said, the process was really a learning experience and I love being able to physically hold my art and imagine people reading it on their couch or on a plane or having it on their coffee tables. I love magazines and books and subscribe to a lot of print media, so being my own DIY part of that is meaningful to me. I also learned exactly how much easier it is to get people to read/click/share then actually buy your work. I definitely would have made more money and spent less time or effort had I done this as a self published series online or even pitched it to a publication, but I really enjoyed the process of making the zine and learning how to do it and writing hand written thank yous and mailing the books out to people legitimately all over the world. If people want to read it, they will spend the $10 and those people are so excited about it so I really appreciate all of their support. Maybe eventually I will release it all online.
Can you tell us what the essays in this zine are about, what inspired them, and what they mean to you?
LA — The zine is a collection of 7 essays, 2 of which are available to read on my Medium. They are a non-linear account of a relationship (my last relationship) told from the female perspective (me) to her now ex-boyfriend. The essays are written in the second person to “you” which is the boyfriend, almost like an open letter. They talk about everything, from what it’s like to live in the apartment they used to share, to how much she hates him, to her debating when he must have stopped loving her and more. It’s incredibly personal and cathartic. It is also crazy specific and has a lot of geographic anecdotes which sort of paint a picture of the relationship but is relatable even if it’s very different from your experience as a reader. People have asked me why I wrote them and the only answer I can think of is that I really didn’t see it as an option, I HAD to do it. I would have written them anyways, but I chose to share them because I think people will relate to them and gain perspective. They were legitimately bursting inside me to the extent that I would get out of the shower to make notes in my iPhone. I’ve never had writing come to me like that. They were all written in the 60 days following the breakup and some of them were just days after. I won’t say which, but I wonder if people can tell how my grieving process progressed as I was writing because I think it really varies piece by piece.
Where did the title “A Headache from Crying” come from?
LA — I think since I work in content and marketing, catchy names really come easily to me. I thought of it one day and was going to either name an essay that or the entire zine, and I ended up using it for both. From there, the graphic of some sort of headache medicine being poured into hands as the cover image appeared and I thought they fit well together. I think a cute name and graphic is super important to get people to share the zine and take pictures so I wanted to make sure I picked something I liked. I think a lot of people know the feeling of having a headache from draining your mind and body so much from crying and being so sad.
I also love the name of your release/reading event, “Tweeting & Deleting:”. Can you explain the story behind that name?
LA — Thank you. Again, it sort of just came to me. This was in a yoga class haha, very LA of me. I decided I wanted to sort of round up a community of women and do a reading and I thought of that name because I don’t feel super comfortable or familiar with the old school literary/academic community, but I still identify as a writer even if a lot of my writing is for the internet or even just tweets. The name symbolizes that that writing is just as valid and that the event is a place to share the type of content you may end up tweeting and deleting because it’s too personal or makes you nervous to share IRL, so I wanted to create an IRL space for it.
What can people expect from the release and Valentine’s Day party at Junior High? You’ve added a handful of other women to read at the event – what was that process like?
LA — At first I was unsure how many people would be interested so I wanted to make sure it wasn’t empty and asked a few of my friends in the LA area. I made sure to keep it diverse and a good mix of writing styles and experience. Then I announced the event with my email to submit and got dozens of submissions. I reviewed them and picked 8 or so more women to get involved and told the rest that hopefully I will do another event and can involve them. I wanted to choose a mix of formats from short stories to poetry to personal essays from a variety of perspectives. The only rule I had was the theme is love, as the writer chooses to interpret that, and that each writer has 6 or so minutes to read. There is going to be champagne and cute snacks and a lot of amazing people in such a cool important space (Junior High Gallery).
Where can we find and keep up with you on the internet?