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(December 1998) [Printed in "Reality Module No.7."]

Preparing Reality Module

*This is an historical document. See the note at the end for how "Reality Module" is produced in 2002. I am including this for anyone who is curious about how fanzines are produced, or about what it is like to be involved in an APA (Amateur Publishing Association).

I should tell you how this fanzine is created.

I receive my ANZAPA Package at the Melbourne Science Fiction Club. I'm keen to see what's inside so I open it there & have a quick read of the contributions. (I'll admit that I read the mailing comments first!)

I have a more casual read again when I get home - and usually stay up reading contributions until 2 or 2:30AM.

Then the envelope sits there by the computer while ideas incubate in my head.

When I'm ready I do two things:

I update a little file called "ANZAPA.People" by reading your contributions and adding little notes about what you've been doing & what you've been discussing. (I also make notes about your mailing comments & decide on possible responses.) This helps me kept track of everybody and what they're doing.

In a notepad I write down a list of things I'd like to include in my fanzine, and then below that I draw branching diagrams to tease out my ideas for writing projects. (These look like circles with the topic written in the middle. I draw a line out from the circle and write an idea at the end of it, I work around the circle adding new branches & ideas in a series. I can go back and add other ideas branches wherever they fit best. It encourages me to be expansive rather than trapped in linearity. I got the concept from a book called "Writing on Both Sides of the Brain" by Henriette Anne Klauser.)

I write my essays in longhand. (I feel freer with a pen - I haven't fully progressed to the digital age!) Later I type them into the computer - editing as I go along.

At some stage (and before the whole fanzine is completed) I print a draft copy of the fanzine & do some rewriting, fix-up some clumsy sentences & fix-up some typos.

[But no matter how carefully I plan - I still have trouble meeting deadlines.]

My mailing comments are written last and usually straight into the computer. (Often at the same time as earlier pages of the fanzine are being printed.)

Printing is a lengthy process with an 11-year-old Epson LQ-850 24-pin dot matrix printer. (Though it would have been impossible to manage without the cutsheet feeder I picked up on a bargain table at Myer 5 years ago.) Each page of "RM" takes about 90 seconds to print. I insert a new printer-ribbon and tell my word-processor program to print 30 copies of page 1, then 30 copies of page 3, etc. Printing takes several hours - I usually start the printer going & then head off to work or fitness class - and hope that I don't have a paper jam to cut the job short (not much of a problem since I started using the more expensive 'Reflex' paper - it seems to have a uniform thickness & feeds through smoothly), and that the ribbon isn't printing too faint towards the end. Then later I change the ribbon, reverse the order of each set of pages, and run the process again for all the even-numbered pages. The whole process takes about 10½ hours all up - and uses two or three ribbons at about $8.00 each.

I've bought a big envelope and stamps during my lunchbreak at work.

Collation is done on a large table in my lounge (which is more like a study). I staple the issues as I go, pop them into the big envelope addressed to Marc Ortlieb [the Official Bloody Editor in 1998], go out and post them - then relax and breath a huge sigh of relief!

*The frustrating thing is I always find some typos sneak through - e.g. the book "Psychology: A Very Short Introduction" mentioned in "RM6" was published in 1998 - not 1978!
(Fixed in online version of Invaginated Shadow Mind!)

*I send copies of "Reality Module" to several of my friends. I print these issues at my leisure after the ANZAPA ones have been sent off.

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2002 Update

Of course everyone produces fanzines in their own way!

I no longer maintain the "ANZAPA.People" file. I've got to know the people in ANZAPA well enough not to need it.

In December 1998 I was still using WordPerfect for the Amiga to produce my fanzine. As a word-processor it is great, but it lacked many of the desktop publishing features helpful in the production of a fanzine. In June 1999 I moved to Wordworth 7 - which allowed me to incorporate images and different fonts into my fanzines, as well as to have much greater control over the layout of the fanzine. In December 2000 I installed a program called TurboPrint which enabled me to print graphics with a resolution and clarity which is remarkable for a dot-matrix printer which is now 16-years-old.

Nowadays I print one copy of each page of my fanzine and then rush off to Officeworks to have about 50 copies printed, collated, and stapled. This saves me a lot of time.

I still write out most of my essays long hand - at my desk, on the train, or wherever.

I still find those dratted typos sneaking through into the final copy!


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Last Updated: 16 March 2003