I’ve often been skeptical of publishing endeavors that are “for women,” “by women,” or otherwise woman-specific. Too many seem to come packaged in pink, weighed down with subtitles or cover illustrations about shoes and shopping. I’ll cop to a minor shoe habit, but pink? Pink is not my thing.
So when Sarah Menkedick approached me with the idea of creating a travel-centric magazine of creative nonfiction, written entirely by women, I was intrigued but hesitant. I feared being pigeonholed with pink.
One year later, Vela has turned out to be the opposite of a rigid, gendered niche. It’s been a place where I can experiment, where I can tell stories I care about without first having to convince an editor that I’m capable of doing the job at hand. It’s let me write without doing the math on a story’s ratio of financial value out to time put in. And it’s connected me to a supportive and challenging group of extremely talented women who push me, by their example, to do my best and then aim to better it.
When I was a teenager I attended an arts-focused high school where I majored in creative writing. For four years, I spent two hours of each day in a writing class, and I started every class with a short free writing session: For 20 minutes, I wrote, with no concern about the final product. There was no end game. I’ve been freelancing for seven years now, but I don’t think I’ve sat down for a free writing stint since I graduated – until Vela, my every writing effort had an end game.
It’s been wonderful to set aside the pitching and the angling and, yes, the fretting over those hugely demoralizing VIDA numbers, and just write. Thank you to Sarah, Lauren, Amanda, Molly and Simone, and here’s to year two!