One Hundred Club
In which I look back on writing this newsletter. Not for the first time, not for the last time.
This is my one hundredth newsletter! It's also been two years since I dropped out of law school and three years since the pandemic lockdown started.
I pretty much just made zines before starting it and I sold them mostly in Chicago and in the UK, but when the initial pandemic lockdown happened, I stopped wanting to go to the post office to mail zines out. First, I made a digital zine with contributions from people (that you can read here!), but then I got restless not having a job, so I decided to start the newsletter. At the start it was mostly just about me listening to Important records I'd never heard before– Mitski, Blink-182, Title Fight, Laura Stevenson– but it built outwards into the kind of stuff I still write about now pretty quick.
The newsletter is the reason I guested on Endless Scroll and met Eric and Eli and Michael. When I moved to Philadelphia for law school, the newsletter was kind of a lifeline out while I sat in a windowless room for hours a day just bathing in misery. That's corny, but I think it's true. If you've read my newsletter for any length of time, I think it's obvious that this thing is a personal blog first and music writing second. With that, you might know a lot of stuff about me! Whether that's good or not is always up for debate, but it's overall been a positive thing for me to have when I don't put too much pressure on it. I don't have a posting schedule and I don't really post at any logical time, but people have always read it and been kind and I'm grateful for that.
The thing is that I don't write for a job and I've never really wanted to. I've grappled with the feeling that I should want that, but I'm not a particularly good music writer– or writer in any technical sense– at all. I'm also not all that interested in it. I like doing my podcast and I like writing about me and linking to a song I'm into at the moment.
I started making zines in college because I dated a guy for a long time who wouldn't take off much work when I'd go visit him in LA and I decided I should do something with that time. I made a photo zine about me and then a zine about the interplay of clothes and music with strangers from the internet who contributed photos via disposable cameras I mailed to them. I struggled for a long time to feel like I had anything that was mine that I cared about a lot. I didn't have much career focus in college, and I was so deeply insecure about even the idea people would want to hear anything I thought. I didn't share the first zine I made with that boyfriend– someone who I'd known and trusted for years– because I was legitimately so embarrassed to have made anything.
That feeling of embarrassment is something I'd struggled with since I was a kid and stemmed from a depleted sense of self worth that I didn't know how to cope with. I made zines because it was something I could do either entirely by myself or with people who had to show interest from the beginning. There wasn't a barrier to entry and, if I kept it as my pet interest, I didn't have to feel embarrassed. I could put them online and I could sell them in Quimby's if I wanted to. I could take photos myself and write for myself and I didn't have to expose myself to anything negative. (Nobody's ever said anything negative about a zine I've made. I think that's mostly because the concept of making a zine seems cool to people so they're more lenient on content. Or maybe I'm batting 1000 on making perfect zines. Who knows.)
On top of my general sense of embarrassment and as someone who didn't write anything substantial in college outside of a paper on Jawbreaker selling out, I've always been pretty intimidated by the world of academic and professional writing. I don't know how much I really want to be a part of it anyway, but there's definitely something of a chip on my shoulder born of the insecurity that comes with unfamiliarity with the world of formal writing. There's a very gritted teeth "I can just do this myself" vibe about me that is probably palpable in the way I (often flippantly, often critically) discuss the world of music writing that is full of professionals who have embraced my work. There's work to be done there personally, but I don't think it's all bad to feel strongly that if I'm writing something I would want to read then it's worth doing and that I don't need to care about the tenuous trappings of The Industry. I would almost always rather write something I think is interesting or funny or just on my mind right here. I don't think I would have that if not for my initial insecurity about writing.
I know I've been lucky that people have always read my newsletter, but I've stopped thinking people read my writing just because I got lucky with pandemic newsletter boom timing. I also used to believe that really anybody could do what I do and have the same result, but I've decided to think that maybe what I do is kind of hard– if only because keeping up with something like this is hard when it's kind of tethered to nothing but you. Most importantly, I don't feel so embarrassed about trying to do something. That was always kind of what it was about– just being able to get to a place where I don't agonize over whether I have thoughts that are valuable.
Anyway, I'm proud of this thing I make by myself. I'm proud of the relationships I've made because of it. I'm grateful for the level of support I've gotten especially from writers I love and people who reply to my emails thoughtfully, but I'm also proud that I don't think as much about whether people care about it.
To keep this extremely naval gazing theme, I have created a playlist (spotify, apple) of every song I've listened to 100 times since starting my newsletter. There are 65 (though one may not be available on streaming), which doesn't keep the 100 day theme, but it's honest. It's exactly what you'd expect. I love Hard Girls and Casiotone and Bomb The Music Industry and Hop Along and a good amount of Phoebe Bridgers.
I have rebranded my blog a bit and I would love 4 u to check it out. All the posts are tagged and categorized! It has a name again! On with the plan!
Miranda Reinert is a music adjacent writer, zine maker, podcaster and law school drop out based in Philadelphia. Follow me on Twitter to hear more about, uh, me: @mirandareinert. You may also send me small bits of money at @miranda-reinert on venmo if you want. As always, thanks for reading!