We’re working hard right now to raise $50,000 for our original story fund by Sunday, November 4th — a number that turns into $200,000 when you consider that WordPress.com matches every dollar contributed times three. We need your help to achieve this goal — to be able to fund more original stories.
At Longreads we pride ourselves on paying contributors fairly. The money we raise during our member drive is used to pay writers, editors, art directors, fact-checkers, copyeditors, illustrators, photographers, transcribers, translators and others who help us publish original pieces throughout the year.
It’s used to fund not only ground-breaking journalism — for instance Leah Sottile’s article and podcast series, Bundyville, a collaboration with Oregon Public Broadcasting — but also personal essays, which we’ve been publishing more of than ever before.
As Longreads’ Essays Editor — and a reader — I feel strongly that personal narratives have never been more important than they are now, when the world needs more awareness of, and empathy for, people’s different experiences. Publishing personal essays allows us to amplify diverse voices, and also to give chances to new writers who are just starting out. I believe personal essays can be as effective as hard reporting in conveying important ideas, and perhaps even more so in terms of opening people’s hearts and minds.
I consider myself incredibly fortunate to get to work at a publication that recognizes the value of personal essays, pays writers fairly for them, and makes room in its editorial calendar for two or more of them each week.
Becoming a member — or making a one-time donation whether or not you already are a member — helps us to keep publishing a broad mix of essays from a wide variety of writers.
It’s impossible to choose my favorite particular essays that we’ve published, but in the interest of persuading you to contribute, I’d like to point to a few that have made me especially proud to have the opportunity to do this work, and to be part of the incredible Longreads team. Please notice, too, the art that accompanies these pieces — original illustrations by various artists, and collages by our art director, Katie Kosma. Member funding helps pay for these, too.
Alexander Chee considers the ways in which answering the question, “What are you?” turned him into a writer.
Carolita Johnson tallies the costs and benefits of love and cohabitation as a woman artist living in a patriarchy.
A black woman’s hair biography.
Mary Wang recalls the ways in which she and her family in China conspired to hide her grandmother’s cancer diagnosis from her.
Terese Marie Mailhot questions the value of Native coming of age ceremonies she missed out on.
Asking difficult questions often comes at a cost.
Living in a body can be hysterically complicated.
Eloghosa Osunde contemplates the role of marginalized artists in online activism.
My friend Sam went back to Brooklyn and his gang of peculiar white buddies watching their endless Stanley Kubrick film festival. I shall not see him again.
Hanna Neuschwander grapples with ending a wanted pregnancy, and finds that “right” or “wrong” fail to describe the moral reckoning.
How a terrified mother tried — and failed — to be a walking-talking public service announcement.
As a mixed-race kid with free-form hair, Lisa Rosenberg believed learning to blow bubblegum bubbles would be her ticket to an idealized (white) American girlhood.
Chelsea G. Summers considers the ways in which outwardly ‘progressive’ men like former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman use kink as a cover for abuse.
As a teen, Jabeen Akhtar discovered that trying to be an exceptional immigrant can make you do stupid things.
I’m really proud of all the personal essays we’ve published, and the illustrations that accompany them. (You can find a complete list here.) With your help, we can publish many more.