Welcome to The Real Sarah Miller
A newsletter for people who like the work of (the real) Sarah Miller
The Real Sarah Miller is a newsletter by writer Sarah Miller (obviously) debuting on May 24, 2021
I started The Real Sarah Miller because I have been writing for 25 years and I don’t want to ask for permission to publish things anymore. I’ve worked for places like The New York Times, The New Yorker website, The Cut, Popula, Commune, The Awl/Hairpin, and The Toast. I have at times enjoyed these institutional affiliations. But I’m ready to be in charge of most of the work I do. I am calling this The Real Sarah Miller because there are thousands if not billions of Sarah Millers in the world, and I want you to be able to tell me apart from them. Also because people, often dudes, are always saying to me “Tell me how you REALly feel.” This is supposed to be an insult, but I generally respond with “Ok, I will.”
It is possible you already know who I am: Sarah Miller, 51, resident of semi-rural Northern California, proud Australian Cattle Dog Mom and author of essays like Heaven or High Water, The Movie Assassin, The Bridge Dog, Death to the Maxi Dress and My So-Karen Life. I also wrote What If a Women’s Magazine Editor Edited a BBC News Story About Syria? because I used to write for women’s magazines, back when I was a small child, and found the editing process “hilarious.”
If you don’t know me, read one of the above essays. If you like it, you can read the rest of them. And then you can keep going for probably at least a week, because I have written a lot of stuff, but first, you should subscribe to my newsletter, which will include new writing and a podcast episode every week.
What you will see in The Real Sarah Miller
I see a lot of newsletters about various subjects: “This newsletter is for people who like tech” or “This newsletter is for people who travel.” I am into a lot of things: Australian Cattle Dogs, Marxist Feminism, cooking well and poorly, shoes, wine, watches, swimming, jokes. But I can’t really say “Oh here is my newsletter where I will offer views on THIS SUBJECT.”
I do not mean to suggest that I’m super deep and see the big picture and those people who actually have “beats” as writers are all hyper-focused nerds. I just never was a specialist and never became one. I write about everything: about how we can’t politely ask governments and companies to stop killing us, about one of my favorite people, the Badger, and about dieting, and also about the opposite of dieting — food and food’s faithful friend, alcohol. I’ve written about the problems of watching Netflix and the problems of having relationships and several times I have just described a day in my life.
If you have read my work before and already like it, it’s not because you think of me as an authority on anything. You get that I don’t actually want to cancel New Year’s (I do and I don’t) and I don’t actually hate rosé (I do and I don’t). You read me because you like my writing.
If you've never read my writing before, allow me to sell it to you: it’s funny, it’s easy to read and it actually makes sense. That’s really it.
So what will I actually be doing here?
All I can tell you is that I will be writing things (and doing a podcast, see below.) I have no idea what they will be. I mean, the other day I sat down and wrote an essay about hickeys. I didn’t know that was going to happen. Who could know such a thing? And I’m in the middle of writing a spin-off essay from that essay about making a mailing list and how I hate following directions, and also computers. Writing for me, and I hate to be precious here, because it’s also kinda just my job, is like a slow-moving adventure, with surprise endings. A favorite essay of mine, The Movie Assassin, was supposed to be a paragraph or two about how I didn’t like The English Patient. It ended up being a sort of autobiography and the start to my work having a sharper political critique. And that’s how it’s going to work here. I will surprise myself, and I hope to surprise you. Some work will be long, some will be short, some will be in list form, I might draw some cartoons. I don’t know what to expect so I don’t know what to tell you other than if you already like me you’re probably on board and if you don’t I can only hope you click on some of these links and get there.
I can’t promise that everything I write (or record with others, this is the podcast I keep referencing) will be funny. I can’t promise that I won’t be “depressing” sometimes too — though it seems to me that the word depressing is often more a stand-in for saying true things or accurate descriptions of the effects of capitalism and colonialism on the world. I can promise that I'll try my best to tell you how I see things, and my most fervent hope is when The Real Sarah Miller shows up in your inbox you will feel a slight lift in mood. Unambitious? Too ambitious? Probably both.
Also announcing my new podcast, Very Specific Interviews
I started Very Specific Interviews when I was writing for Medium. I interviewed writer Sarah Hagi about watching Lost during the pandemic, writer Emily Gould about her shitty Instagram bra, Rebecca Ackermann (who designed my logo) about her shitty Instagram bathing suit, and an anonymous person about her first date after the pandemic. Turns out I really love asking people questions about seemingly minute things and laughing (also crying) at their responses. These first Very Specific Interviews were just in Q&A form, but then I thought it would be cool to record them as a podcast. They will be edited by Erica Heilman, my friend and the creator of Rumble Strip, and they will still be available to read.
That’s the general overview of what I do. Now I’ll get to who gets what for what amount of money, if any.
Here’s what FREE subscribers will get:
Long essays, like the one I’m currently writing about the bad Couchsurfer who almost accidentally killed my dog, and medium-sized essays, like the one that IS GOING UP TOMORROW about hickeys. Yes, hickeys, a baffling subject. Very Specific Interviews, in both audio and written form, debuting Thursday, May 27. Also shorter essays, like this funny one about dudes and TV. Here is one, not funny, about how everything is fucked. Here is one about my lost wallet. Sometimes I’ll write something like a book or movie review that might detour into a rant about bagels in Northern California (just don’t) or praise of my dog, or of beer, or cheese sandwiches, or Elizabeth Jane Howard. I write about my boyfriend a lot, apologies in advance, mostly to him. Since these are kind of my forte I’ll be doing one of these a week, and sometimes they will be free and sometimes they won’t and I AM THE DECIDER.
BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE: photos of Australian Cattle Dogs, which are also called blue or red heelers, or Queenslands. Don’t worry, this is not a heeler Substack, though, what a great idea. Just in case you don’t know what I’m talking about here is my dog, Ruthie, in her adoption photo.
What PAYING CUSTOMERS will get, in addition to all of the ABOVE:
I was trying to think of a really sweet thing that would be special for my paid subscribers and I think I’ve come up with it: every week, paid subscribers will receive a mini-essay that is a spin-off of my longer (free) essay or the (free) podcast. The mini-essay will either be about a person in the longer essay, or an idea in it, or more details about where the action in the essay or podcast takes place.
Other SUBSCRIBER ONLY PERKS: SESTINAS ABOUT DAVID BROOKS, and “Movies Keith and Sarah Have Never Seen,” which is my Twitter friend Keith Harris and me being smug jerks about never having seen movies like The Shawshank Redemption or Sleepless In Seattle. I will also do lists. I have one planned about Celine Dion, who I love without irony.
Everything in the newsletter is going to be free for a month or so, but I encourage you to sign up for a paid subscription sooner.
If you have a job/income and are a fan of mine, I urge you to share some tiny portion of your income with me. I do have a decent but by no means insane deal with Substack, but it only lasts for a year, at which point I will be, once again, on my own. I myself subscribe to anything I regularly listen to or read. “INSERT RANT ABOUT HOW WRITING IS WORK TOO.”
If you can’t afford to subscribe, we can discuss that.
That's the deal. I hope you’ll subscribe. I am extremely excited about having the chance to just write whatever I want. I’m just going for it with this newsletter and letting the chips fall where they may, and I really hope whether you're paying or not paying (again let me know if you have a money issue, we can work something out) you enjoy the results.
The Real Sarah Miller, a.k.a. Andrea, according to this reader who I am not making fun of, I mean, if anyone wants to think of me as Andrea, and subscribe, that’s fine, I’ll be Andrea.