A Capricorn Without a Routine: A Day of Work

A Day of Work zooms in on the daily routine and work habits of Autostraddle team members. Read about the coffee, the cats, the Slack meetings, emails and minutiae that makes Autostraddle go.


Every single morning I wake up, I feel genuinely grateful I still work at Autostraddle.

I know that sounds like hyperbole, or like a cliche I’m typing simply to make you consider becoming an A+ member if you aren’t already, but it is really just the only true way I know how to begin writing about what my days look like in 2021.

Some dew covered, beautiful bell-shaped blush pink flowers

Despite being a Capricorn with six (!) earth placements in my chart, I’m not really one for routine. I wish I was the kind of girl who woke up at the same time every day, had an extensive skincare situation dialed in, and had finally cracked the code of which intense journaling system would help quiet my overworked and perpetually anxious brain, but that’s just not who I am. My process for literally everything is messy! But in spite of battling some of the worst depression I’ve ever experienced this year while grieving my dad, in spite of having anywhere from 3-7 different jobs at any given moment, in spite of my inability to stick to a routine… when I wake up in the morning and think about doing my Autostraddle work, I am overcome with gratitude.

Gratitude that I still have a job in an uncertain world and an unstable media landscape, gratitude that my job is one I feel passionate about and proud of, and gratitude for the A+ members who have committed to supporting Autostraddle since we launched A+ in 2014. You know this, but I’ll say it anyway because I never forget it: without A+ members, Autostraddle would not exist. You keep us going, literally and metaphorically. And, astoundingly, A+ members are less than 1% of the total readership of Autostraddle dot com! If you’re not already an A+ member, would you consider becoming one today?

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A stack of various books that Vanessa is reading!

A+ members and your support allow me to do my job here, and while I don’t have a specific routine every day, I still would like to share with you some of the behind the scenes work-life stuff I do here. Here are some of the ways my days look, when it comes to doing the work I love as your community editor:

  • I spend hours of my job editing work that I feel so strongly deserves a place in our queer conversations. My goal as community editor is to listen to and amplify the most marginalized writers in our community. When I get a new pitch in my inbox or see an interesting thought on Twitter, nothing makes me happier than following up with the writer to let them know we want to publish and pay them. When I edit a piece with a writer, I work to make sure they feel supported and heard through the process, listening to their feedback as well as offering my own skills and expertise to make the story as strong as possible — I think of editing as a collaboration. Some of the work I’m most proud of editing includes: the Community Check miniseries we ran in May and June 2020 about mutual aid and taking care of each other in the time of coronavirus, DaemonumX’s #PolyamoryProblems advice columns we just wrapped up, Leah Johnson’s personal essay about how queer YA novels taught her to write her own happy ending, and Andréa Becker’s personal essay about coming out as an Anti-Zionist Jew.
  • I write you weird shit! Though it’s been hard for me to write my own work over the past year and a half, a fact I blame on a combination of pandemic reality and intense personal grief, the fact remains true that when I do find myself able to produce work, Autostraddle allows me to publish the strangest things in the world. Absolutely nowhere else would encourage me to write: Assume Everyone Thinks You’re Hot, I’m Serious, Everything Is Queer Community: Instagram, the Void, and #SoftEggContent, 10 Floors I’ve Lied On, Ranked, and most recently, MISSED CONNECTION: I’m Sorry I Went to the Gym Instead of Letting You Fuck Me in My Twin Bed. Something I really love about Autostraddle is that even though my role is officially Community Editor, I have always been encouraged to follow my heart and my strangeness when it comes to what I write. I am not boxed in — none of our editors or writers are. Thank you for letting us be strange.
  • I brainstorm and work with the rest of the team to make Autostraddle’s community feel welcome, challenged, connected, and at home both on the site and in the larger world — this looks like figuring out creative ways to help you connect, trying to figure out if IRL meet ups are going to be a thing we manage moving forward or if there are better ways to foster connections, working to make the site more accessible and relevant to a wider audience while maintaining the intimate vibe that drew so many supporters in from day one. This is arguably the hardest part of my job, in my opinion, because so much has changed — in the world, in the landscape of digital media, and internally at Autostraddle — since I began working under this title in earnest in 2013. But this is also my favorite part, because it’s really not about me. It’s about you. And this job — for me, and I think I can say confidently, for all of us — has always been about you. That’s one of the things that makes me most emotional about A+ and all our members: you’re paying it forward. So many of our A+ readers have shared with me that you don’t necessarily still read Autostraddle every day, but you will continue financially supporting the site forever because you want it to exist for the next baby dyke. The tiny percentage of readers who financially contribute to Autostraddle keep it alive for everyone: that is magic, and that is what we have that large corporations simply will never be able to replicate: genuine community.

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a beautiful bouquet of flowers

Those are just a few snapshots of what my days working for Autostraddle look like. Some days are slow and I only focus on my other jobs (I’m not sure if it’s clear to everyone that subject editors are contractor positions that receive a monthly stipend for a set number of hours of work), and some days are wildly hectic and filled with breaking news, Photoshop adventures (and misadventures if we’re being honest about my skills), helping with new events on Instagram (love you, Shelter In Our Place 1 & 2, Shelli’s incredible brainchild to help us feel virtually connected during the very beginning of the pandemic), and taking back to back Slack calls to plan for things like this very member drive!

Being a freelance editor and being myself means I really can’t tell you about my AM/PM schedule in an organized way, but hopefully that’s okay. What I can tell you is that Autostraddle and the work I show up for is on my mind and in my heart always. Over the years we’ve all worked to become better at maintaining a work/life balance, and I personally am proud of myself for certain boundaries I hold now (for example in 2013 I regularly stayed up until 4am working on things for the site and I absolutely do not do that anymore, no matter what, and I think that’s cool!) — but even when I’m not working directly on Autostraddle, I’m thinking about our mission, about our purpose in the world, and about you. That’s what being your community editor looks like, for me.

some items from vanessa's work area including a pin that says "send nudes" and a unicorn mug that says "slut"

And I am filled with gratitude that I am able to do this work, every AM, every PM. To the 6300+ A+ members, to the folks who have been with us since 2014 and to the folks who joined during this very membership drive: thank you, thank you, thank you. Will you join these generous community members and support this queer indie publication today? Thank you in advance, sincerely, forever, always, amen.

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Vanessa faces the camera, hand over mouth, wearing a black shirt. Vanessa is a white woman, with glasses and long brown hair.


Before you go! It takes funding to keep this publication by and for queer women and trans people of all genders running every day. And A+ members keep the majority of our site free for everyone. Still, 99.9% of our readers are not members. A+ membership starts at just $4/month. If you’re able to, will you join A+ and keep Autostraddle here and working for everyone?

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Vanessa is a writer, a teacher, and the community editor at Autostraddle. She used to be hot and fun but now she’s mostly hot and sad. Find her on twitter and instagram.

Vanessa has written 345 articles for us.

5 Comments

  1. Is astrology just the norm on this site now? It seems strange to me, just how many articles here mention it—or rather, define themselves by it!

    To be clear, I have no problem w/ having a belief-system, per se—even if it’s one I don’t share. “A Queer Christian Site” “A Queer Buddhist Site” etc, etc. [And, of course, “A Queer Wiccan Site”] It’s all good.

    But that Autostraddle features it, so many authors, and the assumption is never stated?

    [Not to mention queer athiest sites—THAT is another norm that is too often left unstated.]

    Then again, 5+ years hanging out here, and I STILL don’t know where the name “Autostraddle” comes from (it’s not like it’s here: https://www.autostraddle.com/about/ ), so maybe this is just another one of those inexplicable mysteries that are, um, in the stars…

  2. Vanessa, I may or may not have recently revisited all your pieces on taking hot selfies (particularly those of the more naked variety) as I try to up my selfie game this summer! Your work is always a treat, thank you for doing what you do.

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