By Charlotte Jusinski
Kids enamored of books and words often want to grow up to be writers, and I was one of them. I knew even before I could hold a pencil that I wanted to write. Blank pages sparkled in my eyes. I developed a slight deformity in my right hand because I held my pencil funny, and sometimes spent up to twelve hours a day scribbling stories. I always pictured myself packing a notebook on a dogsled like Gary Paulsen or in a Jeep amid running mustangs like Marguerite Henry. I pictured stacks of books with my name on the spine.
One thing I never pictured was being a magazine editor.
Admittedly, it’s not the kind of job we dream of as kids. We want to tell our own stories first. And I did that for quite a while. But as I got a little older, I hit a certain point (my Saturn return, maybe) where I didn’t find myself that interesting anymore.
Being an editor is the perfect job for someone with that kind of relationship with their own work. I know what excites me, I know how to recognize good writing—but I am also realistic about what I’m capable of. And I am not capable of anything that you’ll find in this issue.
I don’t think I’ve ever met someone as jazzed about their subject matter as Rachel Preston was about her protagonist John Gaw Meem, whom she profiles in “A Gift for Sketching Buildings.” She visited the renowned architect’s buildings and spent hours poring over historic documents to craft a piece so jam-packed with information, it simply had to run as our cover feature.
We also find Part II of “Tracks Through Time” by railroad man Fred Friedman; in no way could I have written this story, unless I suddenly gained fifty years of railroad knowledge overnight, to match Fred. We excerpt beloved local author James McGrath Morris’s new biography of the writer Tony Hillerman. Jamie is known for phonebook-thick biographies of some of our favorite twentieth-century writers, and his expertise at dissecting their lives and placing them neatly, happily on the page is unmatched in Santa Fe or elsewhere.
El Pal veteran Emily Withnall’s quadruple-profile of the photographers included in the exhibition Tempo y Tiempo at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. This story had to come together quickly and had to be impeccable, and while I like to think I could have pulled it off on my own, we all know that’s not true. Thankfully, I have Emily on speed-dial.
Paul Weideman offers an overview of the New Mexico History Museum’s upcoming exhibition Curative Powers, with time spent talking to curators and authors and sifting through books about New Mexico’s hot springs. And, finally, our remarkable poetry feature this issue was curated by Santa Fe Poet Laureate Darryl Lorenzo Wellington. It absolutely shines, thanks to Darryl’s wide net and ability to bring people together for a cohesive and effective selection.
So yeah, it’s not all about me—and that feels good. Being an editor able to reach my tentacles out into New Mexico to bring all these stories together, told better than I could ever hope to tell any of them, is a unique honor bestowed upon very few. Being a writer is cool, but being able to facilitate such incredible and diverse storytelling under one roof? Priceless. I’m still hoping for that dogsled ride, though.