I know what you’re (probably) thinking: Oh God, not another Substack.
Trust me, I wrestled with the decision to do this. I thought to myself that I missed the boat for all initial hype and craze for this site. Most people probably already have a bunch (or as I like to say, 50leven) subscriptions already and they couldn’t possibly add mines to the list. No one is going to be interested in all of my eclectic tastes. And you know what all of that is, dear reader? Fear. Nothing but good ol’ fashioned fear, and I’m tired of having fear maintain a tight grip on my life.
Perhaps a vast majority of you know me from Twitter or my three books but let me give some background as to why I’m doing this:
In 2014, I graduated from Princeton University with a BA in Comparative Literature, and was greeted by the New York publishing world with a string of countless rejections for editorial assistant jobs . Frustrated and hopelessly sad, I moved back home to South Jersey and I discovered the wonders—and troubles—of digital media writing.
I became a freelancer, churning out article after article and personal essays at a time when the media’s appetite for young women and POC to regurgitate their deepest traumas was insatiable.
By 2016, I had a slew of bylines, an editorial assistant gig (finally!), a literary agent, an MFA from Bennington College, and a book deal from Harper Perennial for This Will Be My Undoing-- my debut.
Since then, I became a New York Times bestselling author, wrote two more books (Wandering In Strange Lands and Caul Baby), held professorships at institutions including Columbia University and Germany’s Leipzig University, and became an editor at New York Magazine, ESPN, and Medium, among others.
Though I’m still writing books, teaching, and freelancing, I needed a change in rhythm. I kept chasing after full-time media jobs because I thought my name on some masthead would validate my talent. Then I’d run myself ragged trying to juggle everything because I thought I had to. So much has changed in the past several years with how I engage media and how I think of myself within this ecosystem.
I want to be more free.
I have been disenchanted with the way the media treats those who look like me and those who have even less structural privileges than I do.
Over the past eight years, I’ve seen so many people get destroyed by the industry. They are often underpaid and overworked, exploited and burnt out, silenced and erased. You don’t have to look to the Nieman Journalism Lab or the Columbia Journalism Review to understand journalism’s volatility. Twitter can do that for you.
Long gone are the days when people can expect to stay at a job for decades and comfortably retire somewhere in Florida.
Now, people are getting laid off at annual intervals with pittances for severances (if they even get them). There are more freelancers than jobs. I’m shocked if any staffer stays at a job longer than two years because that’s how quick the turnover rates these days are. Maybe I’m traumatized or simply tired.
I’m also tired of pitching. I’ve accrued bylines at pretty much every major publication that you can think of, and I hate being offered less than $1 a word for my work, especially at my expertise level. I don’t have the energy I had in 2014 to send at least five pitches a day every Monday. I’d rather be asked to take on an assignment and go from there. As I mentioned earlier, the rhythm needed to change.
Furthermore, there are so many times where I watch fascinating, potential stories go by…I’ve even made tweets about how I wish someone would write about x, y, z. And then I thought, why can’t that person be me?
I’m prolific, I’m smart, and I have a wealth of talents and knowledge on the intersection of so many fields: pop culture, academia, literature…Why can’t I become more autonomous with my skills and cultivate a garden of my own?
So here are my community offerings:
If you are a free subscriber, I will commit to regular posts.
If you are a paid subscriber ($6 a month/$55 annual), here is the good stuff:
Ability to comment on said posts
Link round-ups and community threads on current events
access to monthly video uploads where I talk career and money with industry folx
a rolling advice column: you email me a question as it pertains to writing or publishing, I’ll publish my answer
Think of it this way: $6 a month is less than your Netflix subscription. $6 a month is about as much as you’d pay for a Matcha Crème Frappuccino at Starbucks. $6 a month is less than the cost of oxtail (which at least is worth every penny).
And if you decide to be a founding member ($200 a year), that’s even more incredible.
Your financial support will help with my Manhattan rent, health insurance bills, and groceries. But even more than that: depending on how many paid subscribers I receive, I can have a rotation of illustrators from marginalized backgrounds to create original art for my stories, publish guest contributors where I pay them $1 a word to start, do more ambitious work (editorial packages, longform features, travel and field work, etc etc). This space can be kept alive because of you.
And if you’re wondering whether Lorain is for you, here it goes:
Lorain is a place for history nerds, pop culture enthusiasts, literary folx, the devout and the secular, the eclectic, the insatiably curious. The community I hope to have here is one that seeks to understand the broader implications and connectedness of everything from large, societal events down to the minutiae in our everyday lives.
But as a heads up: I’m a progressive Black female millennial. This is not a both-sidesism space when it comes to people’s humanity and dignity no matter what topic I’m covering.
I’ve let media dictate my self-worth and value as a human being and a creative for far too long. I’ve been passed over and ghosted many times despite all my accomplishments. The healing has happened but the body never forgets the stress, anxiety, and devastation when I realized, yet again, that I wasn’t chosen.
Now, I’m choosing me.
Lorain is just getting started, y’all. But I need your help to do this work. Consider becoming a free or paid subscriber. You won’t regret it.
Can't wait to see what you do with Lorain. Much love and luck.