Where the Women Are: Announcing Vela’s Guest Writers Series

When The Rumpus ran Elissa Bassist’s article “Welcome to the Girls’ Club,” Twitter feeds from the mountains to molehills where women write rang with the words “Fuck yeah, Elissa Bassist.”

And if Twitter had given us enough damned characters, we’d have echoed Bassist in commending a whole line-up of writers who are reaching out to other women in the field, lending them their own momentum, leveraging their own position on the proverbial ladder to hoist a sister up too: Fuck yeah, Anne Trubek, Jennifer Weiner, and Meghan Daum. Fuck yeah, Ann Friedman and Rachel Sklar!

Anyway, we at Vela got especially worked up because we kind of knew what Bassist was calling for when she let out her battle cry: “No vagina left behind!” (Even if this wasn’t how we’d have put it, necessarily, and even if some of us find it hard to say “Elissa Bassist has serious ovaries!” instead of “balls.”)

On our own small scale, we are already doing exactly this on Vela. We are using our network. Advocating for each other, as women writers, is really the whole purpose of our existence. And in doing so we are doing our best to circumvent a structural problem that threatens to silence us, or maybe just leave us to languish in lonely obscurity.

If you read our first anniversary post, you’ll find that Vela has been working out for us. We’ve had great exposure. We’ve had a lot of readers. We’ve had allies in the otherwise very lonely place from which we work.

A year ago, the six of us built Vela out of nothing, like some crazy ship on dry land. But we’re not just waiting for a sea change or some miraculous flood to launch us, we’re huffing and puffing and channeling all the currents we can and our little ship has not only held together but creaked into motion.

And now, now that we have a little momentum, we want to bring more women writers on board, which brings me to Vela’s Guest Writers Series.

We have personally invited a group of superb rising women writers who write “creative nonfiction inspired by travel” to contribute to Vela. We want to showcase these writers: we want to join forces.

In fact, today we feature our very first guest writer on Vela.

Laura Sewell Matter’s writing exhibits an intensity of curiosity that is downright infectious, even on topics that might never have occurred to anyone else. In one essay that she published in the Georgia Review, Matter goes on an international quest to find and understand the source of a few pages of a romance novel she finds scattered on a beach in Iceland. In another, she investigates Franz Schubert’s questionable reading taste (not to be missed by anyone who enjoys a Twain-style flaying of James Fenimore Cooper) and how a work of truly bad art could possibly inspire a work of timeless art.

In her featured essay in Vela, “The Long Run,” Matter, a one-time ultramarathoner, investigates the art (and the ugly) of long-distance running and the career of one of its greats.

And at Vela, we say, fuck yeah!

(image source: Library of Congress)


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