In 2015, Meredith Haggerty produced an episode on TinyLetter and women’s writing for her WNYC internet-culture show, TLDR. In it, Haggerty quoted the essay “The Laugh of the Medusa,” published by the French feminist scholar Hélène Cixous in 1976. “Women must write her self: must write about women and bring women to writing, from which they have been driven away as violently as from their bodies,” Cixous argues, going on to explain that the only way women can make up for their absence from recorded history is to write themselves in now, super fast, with lots of detail and energy.
This, Haggerty argued, is what women were doing with TinyLetter, and what many of the best newsletters are doing now. In her newsletter Like This, the writer Meaghan O’Connell documented in gory and personal detail the experience of giving birth. Starting in 2014, the writer Charlotte Shane published a serialized memoir about her experiences as a sex worker in a TinyLetter called Prostitute Laundry. It was later adapted into a book, but as she was publishing the newsletter, she kept no public archive: You had to subscribe, and whatever you’d already missed was lost to the wind.
Kaitlyn Tiffany explores the ever evolving world of newsletters. Although not a traditional ‘blog’ this is another interesting post in regards to development over time. Intriguingly, this captures both changes to people and purpose, but also in regards to the various platforms. One question I was left wondering is whether there is an incentive from some of the freemium platforms for spam accounts to get users up to the magic ‘1000’ subscribers?