I thought that leaving my house and setting up at the local cafe might knock loose a creative thought. No luck. Every table is taken except the wobbly 6-top where I now sit, alone. Awkward from the get-go. The place is full of people on computers, hunched over, doing, well, something. And every last one of them is on my nerves. Judging from the look of things, the majority are inhabiting their avatars on some virtual quest (I like my imagination to take me places where I am the king and everyone else is merely a pawn). I have decided the rest are making futile attempts at writing their memoirs. Or blog posts. Navel-gazers, all of them, I proclaim from the Roundtable. Which I am sure is why these people are bugging me. For I, along with these midday kooks, am rowing the same damn boat.
Exactly four years ago I was working on our first issue of Edible Southwest Colorado in this very spot. I was overwhelmed and over my head. I had worked for newspapers and magazines in the past. But really, there is no more impractical career choice than journalism. It translates to nothing useful outside of itself, like, say, managerial skills.
I needed help. Writers. Editors. Idea people. Businesspeople. Psychologists. Medication. And while there were some dark days, help came (I will plead the fifth on the therapist and meds).
Rachel Turiel, our managing editor, first appeared quite leery of just what it was she was lending her skills to. Now she is the puppeteer behind this regime. In this issue, the Berkeley-born homeschooling mother hangs out on a 100-year-old ranch. What you get is an objective journalist painting the story of a family’s rich history. When not writing, she is editing. Planning future issues. Thinking of revenue streams. Coaching writers. Teaching classes. Schooling her kids. Tending her intricate garden. Talking me off the ledge.
After the first year, when, unknown to me, we were in desperate need of a copy editor, one appeared via Tim Kapustka at Studio & in Durango. Kaputska pulled out a well-worn issue of our magazine that a friend of his had marked up with red ink. A lot of red ink. I thought, wow, peculiar, but compelling. And clearly embarrassing realizing right then I had drastically overestimated my grasp of the English language. Does he want to copyedit for us? Yes, Tim said. Have him call me. He won’t, you call him. Mysterious, I thought. Chris Brussat can spot a single errant space in a 1200-word piece while eating his breakfast. The message comes via email. “Page three, third paragraph, left side, third line, there is an extra space between third and fourth word of the sentence.” Are you kidding? And this is a guy who has multiple jobs including librarian (call central casting), farmer and antique print dealer. He is also very close to opening a natural food store in Bayfield.
And speaking of Tim Kapustka, it was a 60-minute critique with the accomplished graphic designer, that refined our design. “You are making mistakes,” he gently said one evening a few years ago. (Oh … how I love real critique. Let me have it. Tell me where I suck. And then tell me why. Bless you … all of you willing to speak openly and honestly risking hurt feelings.) Fundamental issues. Imprecision all around. He quietly guided it to another level for no other compensation but the love of the medium.
Then last year there was the phone call from Grand Junction. My name is Michelle Ellis and I can help you. The logical response to this offer would be a hopeful ‘how?’ but after four years in the publishing trenches my answer had become a wary ‘why?’ I believe in your magazine, she said. And in just a few issues she has turned us into a self-sustaining operation.
Every single story you read in this magazine is developed, researched and written, re-written and often re-written again by local writers. They drive many uncompensated miles for sweatshop-like wages. A lot is asked of them and they all come back for more. I am thankful and proud to be working with every one of them.
And then there is you, our reader. Our community-minded, local-loving reader. We were hoping you would show up. And you have. Thank you. We can’t keep the magazine on the shelves.
So, dear reader, please consider our dear advertisers. Our lifeblood. Support them and, in turn, support us.
We’re only going to get better.