In olden times, before the internet, I published a questionable little magazine (I use the term loosely) called The West Virginia Surf Report. It was filled with absurd articles and straight-up silliness, very similar to the stuff I’m now writing for Mockable. Like this, and this, and this.
It was all “material,” completely and quite obviously fabricated. I was influenced heavily by the National Lampoon, and was trying to duplicate the tone and brilliance of their writers. Unsuccessfully, I might add.
When I moved to California, in 1996, I started hanging out with Mark Maynard, who, along with his girlfriend (now wife) Linette, published the legendary zine, Crimewave U.S.A. We had a lot of ridiculous fun out there, pulling stunts (like wearing sandwich boards outside NBC studios — offering to make their sitcoms funny), and engaging in all manner of stupidity.
Mark asked me to write an article for the next issue of his magazine, but I didn’t think my stuff was a good fit for Crimewave. His zine was all about personal stories, autobiographical humor, and that sort of thing. I just made up silly bullshit; I’d never written about myself, had never even considered such a thing.
But he kept pushing me, and I decided to give it a shot.
After some frantic contemplation, I decided I might be able to get some mileage out of my time spent working at a convenience store in Dunbar, WV, back during the mid-1980s, and went to work on it.
Not wanting to embarrass myself in front of the entire zine community (Crimewave was very popular), I spent an inordinate amount of time on it. I sweated bullets over that article, and tried to make it as good as my talents would allow.
And it actually worked. I was pleased with the results, as were Mark and Linette, and there was a lot of positive feedback from the readers, as well. In fact, that article was better received than anything I’d written before. It was an amazing turn of events.
During that same approximate period I discovered Krista Garcia’s online journal (the word “blog” hadn’t been invented yet), and the idea for TheWVSR.com began to take shape. I’d write about my everyday life, like Krista does, and maybe duplicate the convenience store triumph. And occasionally sprinkle in some silly bullshit, for old time’s sake…
Fast forward to 2009. TheWVSR is still going strong, and I’m wanting to offer a free gift (bribe) to people joining the mailing list. Maybe an eBook of some kind? But what would be the subject of said “book”? I thought about it for a few days, and then it hit me: just go back to the beginning. Why not simply republish the convenience store article that started it all?
It was a good choice, because the piece hasn’t been on the site in a long time. I removed it, because I wanted to include the article in a book project that hasn’t gotten off the ground (yet). Plus, people still occasionally ask me about it, so there’s at least a small amount of interest out there.
So that’s what I’ve done. I renamed the article “A Convenience Story,” and enlisted the help of a graphic designer. And my very first eBook is born. …I’m sorry, I’m getting a little emotional here.
I announced it to the mailing list last night, and it’s available to everyone today. All you have to do is join the list, and you’ll receive download instructions via email. Here’s the form, which is quick and painless.
I hope you enjoy the story. Please let me know.
If you’re so inclined, I’d appreciate a mention of the book on your blog, at Twitter, on Facebook, or wherever. Please send readers to this page, and NOT directly to the download link. Thanks in advance for helping spread the word.
And if you don’t blog, or waste loads and loads of time at social networking sites, feel free to attach the file to an email and fire it off to your friends. I’d be much obliged.
Finally, I’d like to know if you’ve ever worked at a job where the inmates basically ran the asylum? A place where there was rampant theft, violence, and general grabassery — and management had no control over any of it? If so, tell us all about it in the comments.
And that’s all I’ve got for you guys today. I’ll get back to the normal stuff on Monday.
Thanks for the continued support!