Raw Material
Don't Say Uh-Oh!

Maria Goodman,
Don't Say Uh-Oh

Age: 25

Selections: "Nice Dad Things" (page 84); "Passenger Seat" (page 157)

Recent review (from Zine World): "Little stories and lists from Maria's life that give you a nice warm feeling inside."

Sample: $1 plus two 32-cent stamps from 2431 Woodward Avenue SW, Wyoming, MI 49509

When did you launch your zine? What inspired you to do so?
I first saw an issue of Factsheet Five at a bookstore in the spring of 1994. I had never heard of zines before. The concept charmed me. Was it legal? Could just anyone do it? I sent off for a few. Some were brilliant, some were boring, some were perverted, some were so personal they made me sigh. Most of all, everyone seemed so friendly and obviously loved to write and connect with other people. I'd been living at home since graduating from college the year before and felt lonely and missed all the purpose and sense of audience I'd had writing at school. Inspired, I wrote some things and drew some things and glued some things down. Then I made seven copies—five for the zine people I'd met, one of my family and one for a spare. It took about six months before I had my own Factsheet Five review and beloved zine friends. Now I'm making 200 copies per issue.
Don't Say Uh-Oh has become known as a "zine of lists" and it's true that I like categorizing my essays and get inspired by a topic that makes me remember all kinds of related things I never realized I was writing so many lists, actually, until that phrase was applied to me. Sometimes people misinterpret it and send me things like their top ten favorite songs and want me to print it—just this 10-title list with no personal information or reasons behind the selections. How could anyone else care about that? Whenever something is at least a little bit personal, it can be applied almost universally. Someone's bound to identify with something.

Where did you get the name?
We were on a car ride with my dad as kids and we were messin' around. He's a nervous driver, so he would turn around and remind us, "Don't say 'Uh-oh,' " because it might mean something was wrong. So we started saying it all the time, of course. He still hates driving. Every time he hits the door lock he has a panic attack.

Why publish a zine?
For vanity—check it out, I did that! To impress my family and friends, or to expose them and feel like a Famous Hated Outcast Writer when they read the article they're in. To make friends—find people who like how I write and what I write about and whose writing and personality I like in return. I've made some great pen pals and long-lasting friends through my zine. I've met a few personally. It's how I met my boyfriend—that was probably a hidden motive of the zine as well, if I'm painfully honest about it. To amuse myself—write little essays about things I think are funny, or about people I know or remember—I write lots of childhood stories in my zine. When I look back at past issues I can see what kinds of things I cared about or thought were hilarious or amazingly genius at the time.

Do you do any other zines?
I just started a new zine called Carrot.

What can you tell us about the selection you provided for "The Book of Zines"?
I wrote "Passenger Seat" after I got mad at someone I had to ride around with a lot. I decided there are certain people you ride with certain people not to ride with. I never write anything for anyone else to identify with—everything is purely personal—but almost every time, someone will tell me about how much they connected to an essay or list. "Passenger Seat" is one of the simplest kinds of lists—brief descriptions under the headings "Good People to Ride With" and "Bad." You can agree or disagree, or be inspired to give it some thought yourself. Perhaps in this manner air conditioning will be abolished. "Good Dad Things" is more personal. I was writhing with embarrassment with my dad read it. I didn't want him to , but he got ahold of a copy and found that page. I guess that's a "tribute" kind of list, but it also describes the sort of miserable summer I was having at the time.
There is no research involved in either of these. The second I have work on writing a zine article, I lose all interest and enthusiasm. They're rarely premeditated, either. I have a folder full of titles like, "If My Dad Ran a Restaurant," but usually I'll have no idea where this will lead until I sit down and write seven articles in one weekend.

Any general tips for aspiring zinesters?
Don't be afraid. It's not against the law. You can really do it. You'll surprise yourself. Also, don't worry about being too anything—too personal, too angry, too depressing—don't limit yourself in any way. An audience will come to you. Don't try to please it. Before I printed my first really personal essay, I thought, no one will like this. They just want me to be funny. I'll feel embarrassed. But somehow, I didn't. I felt relieved and kind of heady. And people loved it. I got way more response from that article than from anything else I've written. No one is tying you to a theme except yourself, and if that's how you're comfortable, that's find too. Just write what you want and there will be people who like it. It may take awhile, but it'll work. And you'll find stuff you never thought you'd read, either, or that takes your breath away. I'm evil and only like about 3 percent of the zines people send me to trade, but the good ones are very very worth it.

What's your favorite part of doing a zine?
1) I love writing for my zine and being completely absorbed and having a blast. Maybe chuckling at a newly uncovered memory or something someone said. And reading it afterwards, so proud because it turned out better than I thought it would. This is extremely rare but it's so worth it when it happens. Weeks later I may wonder why I thought it was so great, but at the time I'm swept away.
2) Reading something by a bona fide genius and better yet, the genius likes my zine too and we become good friends and write long brilliant letters to each other.
3) The satisfaction of having another issue all done, finally.

In my other life, I'm an:
Employee at a privately owned science and technology library. Is that the other life you meant? I don't have any dazzling secrets.

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