Last September, I worked for a month as an (unpaid) intern for a women’s digital magazine. The prospect was initially exciting – I had discovered this particular website through Pinterest. Their Pins littered my feed and their apparent popularity was enticing. Thousands of followers, thousands of repins. Their aesthetic was sleek, polished, glamorous, wholesome, cool. I’d jumped at the opportunity to join them as an editorial intern for a month (expenses paid, they initially advertised, although this didn’t actually pan out).
I was an aspiring writer, keen to write about women and women’s issues, keen to find a platform that exclusively focused on women and women’s issues. Maybe a startup women’s digital magazine, like this one, was my future?
A month later, the disillusion had firmly overwhelmed me. It had been a month of proofing and writing listicle after listicle whose entire existence predicated on their ability to draw in more clicks. A month where the main thread of content involved regurgitating a set of already well-established beauty or lifestyle tips. A month where the most interesting content I was able to write was frustratingly condensed (SEO dictated my articles be no longer than 450 words) and over-simplified (SEO also dictated I break my content down into lists or subheadings). A month where a lot of my most interesting content proposals were shelved.
I welcomed my last day with open arms. As the day drew to a close, I notably didn’t offer to stay on for longer. I notably didn’t thank them for the opportunity. I had come down with an awful flu and I left an hour early, happy to turn my back on the place. Although I continued writing for them remotely, to keep up the appearance of being a freelance writer, I had completely lost interest in the website.
A few months later, the disillusion this internship had birthed took a bigger, firmer shape. After six or seven months of trying to find my dream platform, I realised there was no such place. The places that would allow me to write (and live off my writing) are almost impossible to break into. These places also aren’t exclusively for women, by women, and about women – they have interesting women’s features, but that usually isn’t the main driver of the publication. And the places that are exclusively for women, by women, and about women, just don’t produce the kind of content I want to produce.
I know what I, as a woman, want to read. I love finding a piece of long-form, thoughtful, challenging, well-researched, original, imaginative content. They’re just so few and far between – or maybe they’re just not easy to find. But why not? Why isn’t it easier to find this kind of content? Why is it so easy to find another listicle called “6 Steps For a Perfect Home Detox” but not enough of “The Protest Banner Company Where You Can Rent Signs of Rage“?
I know which of those two articles I’d rather read, and which of those two articles I’d rather write.
Life went on. My writing, all of it – listicles, personal blog posts, ramblings in notebooks – was put on hold while I wrote my Master’s dissertation; while I started a new job; while I moved out of home; while I settled into my new home; while I blah blah blah. Eventually, I realised I hadn’t just stopped writing because I was too busy. I’d stopped because I’d lost any sense of direction. Why was I writing? What did I want to write? Where could I write it?
An idea bloomed, then a frost settled in, and now it’s bloomed again. I don’t want to get into too many details, it’s far too soon. But for now, my direction for this, Secretly Hermione, has finally become apparent. This isn’t a lifestyle blog. This isn’t a place for clickbait or listicles. This isn’t a place for advice. This is a place for the rambling articulations of my little life and my little preoccupations. It’s also
This isn’t a lifestyle blog. This isn’t a place for clickbait or listicles. This isn’t a place for advice. This is a place for the rambling articulations of my little life and my little preoccupations. This is the place for those fiction short stories I scribble in my Moleskine and the non-fiction essays I scribble there too. This is the place for the kind of writing I want to write, and the kind of writing I want to read.