Creating Dear Damsels

As the end of our first month online draws to a close, we wanted to take the opportunity to tell you more about why we set up Dear Damsels.

As the end of our first month online draws to a close, we wanted to take the opportunity to tell you more about why we set up Dear Damsels.

Dear Damsels started with an email.

UntitledWorking as an editorial assistant, I was looking for a way to discover more young female writers, but found that somehow, in the vast forum of the Internet, there were very few places that these gals were hanging out, sharing their stuff. It turns out that Bridie – a blogger and a published writer herself – was thinking the same thing. We knew from personal experience that there were so many young women blogging away into what sometimes can feel like oblivion. And we both felt that something was missing: a platform that would provide a place for female bloggers and readers to find each other.

And so, after our inaugural meeting (which took place in a coffee shop in Brixton, both of us suffering respective hangovers), Dear Damsels was born!

We picked creation as our first theme as an ode to the starts of things – and the start of our own thing. But we also picked it because it felt so relevant to the twenty-something women we were trying to reach out to. We’re at the beginning of careers, friendships, relationships – we’ve already started, but at the same time we’re worried we haven’t quite got out of the starting blocks. Those of us who went travelling wonder if we should have joined a grad scheme; those of us who got a job worry we’ll never get to see the world (we’re dramatic like that). It can feel like everyone else’s lives have begun, and somehow we’re already behind. We gasp and say to each other in horror ‘can you believe we’re twenty-four?’ (Knowing full well this is also a ludicrous thing to say.)

In 2015, Yale graduate Marina Keegan’s essay ‘The Opposite of Loneliness’ went viral after she tragically died in a car accident – it struck a chord precisely because she was urging us to realise ‘the notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical. It’s hilarious . . . We’re so young. We’re so young. We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility.’ I feel like this hits our creation nail on the head. Damsels (if we may call you that), now is a time for beginnings!

We also chose the theme of creation because it’s exactly what we wanted you to do. To go and write, and not be afraid to send it to us. I’m writing this now, knowing that if I hadn’t promised Bridie that I would, I would be cringing at each word, backspacing every sentence. We want Dear Damsels to exist to tell you that what you’re writing is worth it! Stop being embarrassed; stop worrying that you don’t know the correct way to use a semi-colon. Even if Dear Damsels ended tomorrow (which it won’t – we’ve got business cards now, we’re IN THIS THING) we’d be glad because it encouraged friends to send us things they thought were no good, but which were actually brilliant and beautiful.

So, our next theme might not be about creation, but, gals, we still want you to create. We know you’ve got something to say, and we want to hear it.

Abby Parsons | @abbyp30

Our next theme is privilege. As I wrote this it occurred to me that being 23 can be both a privilege (I’m young, fun and carefree!) and a burden (oh shit I just want to watch TV tonight). Just sayin’.