What The Mary Sue—and Your Subscription—Means to Me

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It’s hard to put into words what The Mary Sue means to me.

You may have noticed everyone on staff has written up their own posts explaining how important TMS is to them. I read each one as they were published, and I found myself not only just touched but humbled by the fact that everyone could be so open and honest about themselves and the job that they so obviously love. From Maddy’s origin story of having worked in journalism for ten years to Teresa’s incredibly resonant post regarding money (which is something we’re all a little shy about), it’s clear to see that they’re completely and utterly committed to seeing TMS succeed.

So, naturally, I began to wonder what my story might look like. “If I wrote one of these posts,” I thought one day while walking, “What would I talk about?”

Well, I guess I could talk about how this is actually one of my very first regular paid writing gigs. I freelanced, much like Teresa, for a while before joining TMS. I wrote in my spare time when I wasn’t working at my San Francisco tech job, and I was lucky enough to get paid for a few of these pieces thanks to some incredibly wonderful publications: Model View Culture and The (old) Bold Italic.

Let me tell you, the first time I got paid for something I wrote, it was magical. It was a piece on being trans while living in our ever increasingly-connected world. Finding out that something I wrote was going to be published was amazing. Sure, the monetary boost was nice, but what really stuck with me was this idea that someone thought I had a story to tell. Someone thought I had a story that was not only worth paying for but worth sharing with their entire readership. As a writer who’s often down on herself because she doesn’t know if her story’s worth telling or not, hearing otherwise was exhilarating.

“But no,” I thought. “That story’s kind of awkward. Why should they care about the first place I wrote? What if I talked about how I got my job here at The Mary Sue?”

Well, I guess I could talk about that. A friend of mine shared a job posting from The Mary Sue, a request for a Weekend Editor. Thinking there was no way I’d get it, I decided to just go ahead and apply anyway. Imagine my surprise when I got a reply back from then-Editor-in-Chief Jill freakin’ Pantozzi. Fun story: my reply trying to schedule an interview almost never made it out because of a Google Inbox bug that ate my outgoing e-mails. I was this close to missing out on this gig.

Anyway. After a fun Skype interview, and after a week or so of waiting, I found out … that I didn’t get the job. They hired the incredibly lovely Alanna Bennett, who was TMS’ weekend editor for quite a while. I stuck around as a contributor, which was totally awesome in and of itself, until one day, I got another e-mail from Jill telling me that Alanna was moving on and that they wanted me in as Weekend Editor.

My heart leapt. You know, I used to think authors and writers were totally full of it when they said a heart can leap, but right in that moment, I realized how wrong I was.

“Hmm… nah,” I thought. “That story’s even weirder. Who wants to read about how you didn’t get a job?”

Okay, fine. So what if I talked about the things I get to write?

I can’t say that I’ve seen writer’s rooms or pitch meetings at other publications before, but I have a feeling that The Mary Sue’s operates on a completely different level. I am consistently surprised at how open my co-workers are to the ridiculous things that I pitch. I mean, I don’t think I could sell a “Stormtrooper Performance Review” post or a Pokemon Go PSA to any other website. Maybe I could? But I don’t know for sure. What I do know is that the kindly folks here at TMS were so down for that.

Like I said, I’m always surprised at the fact that we’ve been allowed an open platform to not only share important news stories in and around the geek sphere, but we’re also allowed to just … well, be ourselves.

You see, I’ve spent, oh, about 740 words there trying to nail down a definition of what The Mary Sue is to me, when it’s not something that can be tied down. There is no defining characteristic of The Mary Sue. It is, was, and always has been … you.

It’s open and honest and vulnerable. It’s determined and committed to being a platform for people. It does its best to never forget or leave anybody behind. It’s funny, it’s serious, it’s community, care, even love at times.

It is these things because you are these things—and don’t you ever forget that.

I am compelled to say that these things, these people—you, the community, us, me, the staff, everyone—are only here through your generosity and support. We exist because some of you have been so kind as to subscribe to us, helping us keep the lights on and the chat rolling. I worry sometimes that this doesn’t come across correctly, or that it isn’t clear, but believe me when I say: your subscription means the world to us. Allow me to repeat once more, for emphasis: your subscription means the world to each and every one of us.

More than that, it is through that generosity that we’ve been able to pay our contributors, spend more time on feature posts, and even connect with you all through our live chats.

It’s annoying, I know, being asked to subscribe to something. It really sucks, but I’m hoping (perhaps against hope) that something I said here today connected with you. I’m hoping that if something any of our writers or editors (Maddy, Dan, Teresa, Carly, Charline, or even me) wrote ever resonated with you that you’d consider showing your support with a subscription.

It’s clear that we all came here because we love this website, and we love what we do. But because of generous folks like you, we get to stay.

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Image of Jessica Lachenal
Jessica Lachenal
Jessica Lachenal is a writer who doesn’t talk about herself a lot, so she isn’t quite sure how biographical info panels should work. But here we go anyway. She's the Weekend Editor for The Mary Sue, a Contributing Writer for The Bold Italic (thebolditalic.com), and a Staff Writer for Spinning Platters (spinningplatters.com). She's also been featured in Model View Culture and Frontiers LA magazine, and on Autostraddle. She hopes this has been as awkward for you as it has been for her.