About Sarah Menkedick

Sarah Menkedick is the founder of Vela. Her work has been featured in Harper's, Oxford American, The Paris Review Daily, The Best Women's Travel Writing, The New Inquiry, The Common, and elsewhere. Her Vela story "Homing Instincts" was selected as notable in The Best American Essays 2014. Before returning to the U.S. for graduate school, she spent six years living, teaching and traveling abroad. Read her full bio here. Follow her on Twitter @SarahMenkedick.


  1. Have you read anything by Janet Malcolm?

  2. Anne Leonard says:

    I just sent this link to my editor and agent, who will read it and take it seriously and probably pass it on. (I got my MFA from Pitt in ’94 and a novel is finally being published next winter, 20 years later, hang in there.)

  3. Brilliantly explicated. I have written about how the Confessional label in poetry is used to silent female poets, so fascinated to read how that plays out in other genres. Thank you for writing this.

  4. Well put!

  5. This is brilliant in so many ways but I don’t like that it pits more personal writing against hard journalism with the slant that the latter is more respectable. I know this isn’t just the author’s view and that it’s based on funding, shoulder patting, awards etc in the industry but I think the thought shift doesn’t just need to happen with the acceptance of women as less-personally-involved-in-the-writing journalists but that more respect needs to be given to more traditionally “female” genres. I prefer writing the personal. I prefer cooking to chopping wood. To me being a feminist is having the road open to doing whatever we happen to be best at. If that’s reporting from a war zone then you are awesome, but so is say, an intimate story of surviving cancer or biking across Asia.

  6. Out of the game says:

    I was very glad to read this, but I wonder if you’re not being a little too easy on the women’s mags. At least back when I was writing for them, which is in the 90s and 00s, the big women’s magazines were notorious for enforcing a certain kind of tone, vocabulary, structure, etc., while the men’s mags were much more willing to let writers speak in their own voices and not always write to formula (lead w anecdote, make everything personal, lots of boxes and lists.) Men’s mags also ran longer articles; women’s magazines wanted everything to be readable in small bites. The women’s mag editors had a very clear idea of what their market wanted and they didn’t want to provide anything but. It wasn’t just snootiness that made people not want to write for women’s mags; it was hard to produce work they’d publish that didn’t feel like a compromise.

    It’s like misogyny in general: women are oppressed but they also are complicit. In this case, the editors and the readers as well.

  7. This was a fascinating read. Thank you.

  8. Mary Meredith Drew says:

    Insightful, thought provoking essay. Thank you. I agree with Celeste that the idea of “men’s” journalism being superior is troubling. Our journalistic tradition seems to favor the white male intellectual paradigm, and ignore emotion and compassion. Being recognized as a serious journalist or author seems to depend on fitting the paradigm. I hope to see the day when writing about personal journeys is valued every bit as highly as bloodless but more highly rewarded so-called objective journalism.