Lauren Quinn

1514990_10202646566863634_1598804365_nLauren Quinn is a writer, editor and teacher. Her work has appeared in The Believer, Guernica and The Rumpus, among others. Her work for Vela has been featured on and The New Yorker’s Page Turner blog, and anthologized in Best Women’s Travel Writing, Volumes 8 & 9. Lauren holds a BA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and used to write the blog Lonely Girl Travels. Her website is here.

Lauren is currently pursuing a Masters in Education at UCLA. She has previously taught kindergarten in Hanoi and freelanced in Phnom Penh. She will also be an Oakland girl at heart.

Stories by Lauren:

  • Neither MFA Nor NYC

    My favorite story from my college years wasn’t one I heard in a Creative Writing workshop. I didn’t hear it in any lit seminar or poetry reading. I heard it on a Wednesday night in West Oakland, sitting in a metal folding chair at the twelve-step meeting where I clung to my tenuous new sobriety. […]–Read more

  • The Ism and the Alcohol

    A year and a half ago, I published my first essay on addiction. You’d think having gotten sober at age seventeen would have been fodder for plenty of personal essays, but it took me twelve years to start writing about alcoholism and sobriety. Even then, that first piece did not show me drinking or using, […]–Read more

  • The Storm and the Beast

    The morning before the typhoon hit, I sat down for a Skype date with my parents: my morning coffee and their evening wine, the usual football and grandchildren updates punctuated by the cut-outs of the faltering wifi connection. Until my dad said he had something to tell me: for the first time, he was struggling […]–Read more

  • On the Far End of Reality: Jennifer Percy’s Demon Camp

    Everywhere he went, he saw them, their burned bodies, watching him. These were the days after the war. Demon Camp is not really about soldiers. Well, okay, it is. Jennifer Percy’s debut book revolves around the lives of soldiers who’ve returned from Iraq and Afghanistan with PTSD, focusing chiefly on the story of Sgt. Caleb […]–Read more

  • A Story About Hanoi

    This is a story about moving to Hanoi. This is not a story about moving to Hanoi as an American. This is not a story about eating phở cuốnby the lake where John McCain was shot down. This is not about learning to call the Vietnam War the American War. This is a story about […]–Read more

  • The Non-Bravery of Bearing Witness

    It’s happening again: I’ve published a highly personal essay and well-intentioned readers are calling me brave. It’s meant as a compliment, I know, but I can’t help feeling what I always feel when I hear this comment: confused and a little bummed out. As a woman who writes personal narrative, I get called “brave” a […]–Read more

  • The Morning After

    Paper gown and stirrups, white walls and a tray of gleaming tools: he held the syringe over me and said, “It’s a special kind of anesthetic. We won’t be putting you completely under—you’ll still be lucid—but you won’t remember anything.” Then he slid it in. I stared out of the window at a little pond […]–Read more

  • Goodbye to All This

    So, I’m balking on my grad school apps. It’s not because they seem arduous—in fact, they seem surprisingly streamlined. It’s not because I’m unaccustomed to writing 500-1,000-word personal essays. It’s not because I’m unclear on my motivations. It’s not like I’m about to give up a good life in Hanoi and move back to the […]–Read more

  • The Tweakers or the Ghosts

    You know you’re close when the fog thins out, when the dull pink behind cuts through, when the hills along the highway become vacant and brown. Staples, Starbucks, Target, In-N-Out; casinos and check cashing. The spires of the oil refinery silhouetted and pumping exhaust that smudges across the sky. The last exit before the Carquinez […]–Read more

  • The Trip Inside

    Warm summer night, window open, leaves cutting the streetlight into pieces that flickered across the bedroom floor. We lay on top of the sheets, him on his side, me under his arm. I said I couldn’t sleep. “Let me show you a trick.” He pulled his arm out from under me and rolled onto his […]–Read more

  • The Antidote for Personal Narrative

    A month from now, I will be a full-time kindergarten teacher. This was not part of the plan. The plan was… well, there wasn’t much of one, other than to Be A Writer and Write A Book–you know, those things I’d been wanting to do and saying I was going to do since I was […]–Read more

  • Still Moments in Vampire Town

    “There’s this moment of still right before it happens.” The first time, she was in a car. A man came to the window, reached in and held a machete under her friend’s chin. “But I knew,” Melissa told me. “Like, right before it happened. We were sitting in the car and I just kept thinking, […]–Read more

  • This Is How It Happens

    Try this: Click on our masthead. Look at the photos. Skim the bios. What do you notice? Eight women. Eight white women. Eight college-educated, North American, native-English-speaking white women. We formed Vela to counter the gender byline gap. But what does it mean to have a women-run website, run entirely by one kind of woman? […]–Read more

  • My Month as a Slut

    My sister clapped her hands and said, “Let’s get dressed up like sluts and go to the Beverly Center!” This is how it started. For my thirteenth birthday, my parents had gotten me tickets to fly down to LA. It was my first plane ride by myself. “I’m sure you’ve done this a thousand times,” […]–Read more

  • “Solo Female Travel Isn’t the Problem”

    We’re loving the response of prominent female travel bloggers to the recent upsurge of the old solo-female-travel-is-too-dangerous line. Both Jodi Ettenberg (Legal Nomads) and Stephanie Yoder (Twenty-Something Travel) posted about the fallacy in the argument that solo travel was to blame for the recent death of an American woman in Istanbul–or, as one commenter put […]–Read more

  • The Bright Burning of Dory Tourette

    Author’s Note What follows is a story about my friendship with Dory Ben-Shalom, AKA Dory Tourette, a person beloved by many. The story is very much about my experience with Dory, which occurred during a tremendously difficult period of my life. As such, it is cast through a certain prism of addiction and depression, a […]–Read more

  • Making What?

    It would have opened like this: the year 2000, June, weekday, mid-afternoon. Standing along the brick of 16th and Mission, a clump of dirty-haired kids snaring up the flow of commuters and pan-handlers and popsicle-cart pushers. Screaming, screeching, distorting – the band had hijacked the electricity from the MUNI bus stop and were playing a […]–Read more

  • Apocalypse Soon

    The fog crept past the streetlight, swallowing the clouds of smoke we blew out, skinny or fat or from our noses in dragony tendrils. It was quiet there on the back porch; you really couldn’t ask for a better place to take a break – sweat stuck to your skin; hands stinking like tequila and […]–Read more

  • Sweat Ride through the Smog Swamp

    I met him when I was trying to get to work. I was walking down the street in the Old Quarter, dodging traffic in my too-baggy work pants, the Hanoian humidity pressing down on me like a clammy hand, like it wanted to suffocate me, like it might actually want to kill me. I was […]–Read more

  • Girls, Girls, Girl

    The girls looked bored. They slouched in plastic chairs, picked at their nails, crossed and uncrossed their toothpick legs. Neon shadows slashed their skin, deepened the dark places, made their bones look sharper than they really were. Men filtered through the open-air patio, Western guys in flip-flops and shorts. They wore the efficient expressions of […]–Read more


  1. Fallen by chance on your old blog Lonelygirltravels, loved your poetry and ” End of the road” as well as a few other writings. Now found you on Vela. Wish you all well. Will take time to read here again.

  2. Joe Mindigo says:

    Ms. Quinn – Read “The Ism and the Alcohol” and thought of a book which may interest you – “A Mind Powered Disease” by Bob Anderson.