October to December 1991 I worked Stateline Lake Tahoe ( the south state line, not the north one- the two states meet in the top middle of the lake and down at the bottom at the southeast corner ) while living in the California city of South Lake Tahoe. This is about the only major area poor folk can live. All of the Nevada side is rich snobs and most of the rest of the lake on the Cali side is wooded and sparsely populated. The job was dreadful as most of mine were, lugging dozens of pounds of coins ( way before slot machines went digital and coinless ) on a waist belt- almost an exact duplicate weight and distribution of being pregnant with quadruplets which leads one to believe its designer was a disgruntled breeder. But this was still an era- now a distant memory- where casino jobs were coveted and Union-like in bennies and wages. Plus, I worked four ten hour shifts which gave me three days off a week. With this copious free time I started my first newsletter which was the foundation of the greatest publishing empire of all time. To the sounds of great drum rolls and the spectacle of falling confetti, The Walter Mittey Papers was born.
I had zero writing experience, extremely short high school papers excepted ( and the odd police report ). I was also much more enamored with publishing than with writing. For some bizarre reason ever since I was a child I had been fascinated with stationary supply stores, and the idea of photocopying and office supplies and mailing physical publications fit right in with that. The first copy of the newsletter was therefore dreadful with numerous unoriginal ideas in several sentence forms comprised of a single double sided sheet. It was supposed to be a bi-monthly and I charged 50 cents. Stamps were 20 cents and the Xerox copies and envelope another 15, I think. The publishing schedule from day one was much worse- I think it took five and a half years to put out 25 issues ( summer 98 was the last issue if I recall correctly ). It was fun, swapping copies with other “zines” ( amateur crudely published magazines or newsletters ). I did finally get an adequate product going of eight pages on usually a single idea. Loompanics bought one of my articles for publication. Backwoods Home mag rejected them being afraid of losing subscribers by going to survivalism, which was my first and only attempt to solicit from a conventional publisher ( Loompanics contacted me- a huge ego boost to a fledgling writer ). I thought I was being a bit better than others with original ideas. The Loompanics article was how to circumvent state gun control. I put out one on a how-to dictatorship for after the collapse. One on how to steal from your job to finance preps. But being a physical product, I was still in Publisher mode. I was improving as a writer but the occupation I was striving for seemed to be about being a publishing enterprise.
Continued next time.
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