BY SUE TAVES
October 26, 2016
Whidbey Life Magazine Contributor
When I started working on the roots of Whidbey Life Magazine (WLM) in 2011, I didn’t have an idea of what it would become. If I had, I probably would have opted for a nap instead. Now, here it is five years, six print magazines, 234 weekly newsletters, 630 blog posts, and more than 1,500 online stories later. More than 40 active team members contribute their passion and talents to this community-based magazine. We have loyal readers from all over the states and Canada who get our print magazines in the mail and enjoy our stories, blog posts, and photo essays online. It’s pretty amazing, but I do miss naps.
Somewhere along the line, WLM became a professional magazine that pays writers and editors, sells advertising, has a readership, makes money, and all that stuff. That wasn’t how it started. I thought of WLM as my love letter to Whidbey Island. Well, it turns out that there are a lot of us who are in love with living here. Thankfully, many of us are writers, photographers, editors, graphic designers, and proofreaders. It’s been a joy to produce this love letter with so many people who share deep feelings for our community. To see WLM grow into a professional publication is like watching kids grow up, get a job, and plan to move out of the house. I feel proud, relieved, and a little sad.
WLM is “moving out.” Now that this idea has become a full-fledged magazine, it’s time for me to pass the publishing torch to someone who can steer WLM to next level. After a search this summer, we found Deborah Nedelman, who is a writer, editor, and publisher. I can’t tell you how exciting it is for the WLM team to be able to debate the pros and cons of the Oxford comma with a publisher who understands what the big deal is.
Deborah spent most of her career years as a clinical psychologist, and something tells me that she has understood the power of story for a long time. She received her MFA from the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts (NILA) and most recently was the editor-in-chief of Soundings, the literary review published by NILA. When I hear her talk about her ideas and plans for the future of WLM, I realize how much more is possible and feel pretty good about my plans to get back to my art studio. Please welcome Deborah when you see her; her passion for this community is matched by her skills, and we are all going to benefit. Especially me, because I’ll be able to nap.
Before you all get teary about me leaving, I have to admit that I’m not going very far. I’ll be staying on at WLM as a consultant. Apparently, it helps to have someone around who can answer questions like: “Is that form on Dropbox, Google Drive, or Sue’s laptop?” or “Did we ever write a story on that glacial erratic in the Saratoga Woods?” I will get to spend more time at my art studio, and maybe I can get some of those sculptures finished, so they can “leave home” too.
I can’t express enough gratitude to the people in this community who have offered their time, advice, encouragement, skills, and money along the way to support me and WLM. To the WLM team, both current and past, you amaze and inspire me. It has been so rewarding to work with a group that transforms a kernel of an idea into full-blown popcorn right before my eyes. I love this co-creating process, and it’s been a joy to experience this island through your eyes, it makes me love this place, and you, all the more.
So as I turn over my publishing and editor-in-chief duties to the more than capable Deborah Nedelman, here are some more highlights that we’ve experienced along the way.
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Sue is a superhero! Looking forward to the next chapter…
Thanks Don for being a part of it all and for helping shine a light on our amazing visual artists.
Dear Sue, I am forever grateful to you and your core team for bringing this magazine to life. I feel the love, baybee, and agree that it is a magazine of integrity that celebrates the sweet and creative quality of life here. Looking forward to seeing new creations of yours. Thanks for your positivity and can-do perspective. — Love, Miss Kate
You are a fireball of creativity and goodness Kate, I’m so grateful for the day you joined the WLM team!
Congratulations, Sue! It’s amazing to see your child head off down the path without you, but standing by with support when asked is a good place to be. Thank you for the amazing experience you gave so many of us at WLM. I’ll always have fond memories of our gatherings, and I can’t wait to see how WLM grows and changes. Some ideas take on lives of their own and all we can do is hang on as long as we’re needed. Good for you for knowing where you need to be and for making sure WLM is in good hands. Hope to see you and your new creations around the island. Best wishes always to both of you…
Thank you too Deb for your help with shaping the formative time at WLM, I too look forward to seeing the new steps that WLM will take.
Sue: Thanks for all that you have done for art and the artists of Whidbey Island. I agree with Don, you are a super hero! Best wishes.
Thanks Skip, I appreciate your support along the way!
You have accomplished so much Sue Taves. You helped bring this amazing magazine into existence and to the caliber it has reached. Strong knowledgeable lady to know when your role is best to be changing, happy for you and those of us in your sculpture world, as we will be able to see you and more of your gorgeous art pieces. Salute my friend…see you sooner rather than later in the studio.
Thank you Sue. Yes, I think we have a “sanding day” we need to schedule at the studio!
You go girls! So pleased to hear you will have more time for personal art! Honored to be in the formative photo you used in this story.
Now maybe we can have coffee more than once a year.
Thanks Zia, I love the photo too! Looking forward to having time for coffee more often too!
Congratulations, Sue! You’re a rock star and I’m so glad to have shared part of this journey with you!
Thanks Kim, WLM wouldn’t be where it is if you hadn’t been on the team! Thank you for all you’ve done and your ongoing support. It’s exciting to see it transform and grow up!
Yes, I’m a wordsmith…but it’s hard to come by the words that express what a joy it has been to work alongside you these past couple of years. Your patience, fairness, and dedication have inspired me time and time again. You’ve managed to sustain and expand your vision despite the day-to-day toll that that publishing a magazine takes. Thank you for giving so many of our island creatives — writers, photographers, bloggers — the chance to tell the important stories and express the essence of Whidbey life in Whidbey Life. So put on those goggles and pick up those sculpting tools…but while doing so, always remember that this magazine of yours, this creation, stands shoulder to shoulder with your other creations, and is every bit as solid and real as any stone.
See, this is why I think writers are amazing. I started this project as something for the visual artist but I have come to learn so much about world of writing and I have to say that writers are every bit as strange and lovable as visual artists are! Thank you Dianna, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to work with you closely to create these magazines. Our love for this place has been a bond from the start and I’ve learned so much from you about the telling of stories, thank you.
Congrats on a job well done! Now you will have time to take those naps, although I’m sure that your energy level will not allow. Art rules, so go make some happen…
Thanks Gary, I love the idea of naps but you’re right, I’ll be at the studio instead. Happily so as I just got myself a “brand new” 1968 forklift for moving my big rocks around!
Sue–Having watched this idea of yours bloom and mutate from the very earliest approach to Whidbey Island Local Lending when you weren’t quite sure just WHAT you were proposing to today’s essential community-binding, many-armed media powerhouse, I am still amazed by what you and Jan and your merry band have accomplished. And you are smart enough to move on when the time is right and the course is set. Congratulations!
Thanks Lynn, that means a lot to me coming from you. You are an inspiration. I appreciate your support and also the really great grounded advice you shared over coffee! I’m looking forward to more movies too!
Ahhhh!!!! Congratulations on every bit of it from beginning to ending.
I will be napping too…. 1/6/17.
Talk soon my friend.
Ha! Can’t wait to hear more!!
Oh, Sue, what a job you’ve done! I’m so grateful I got to be a part of the early days of WLM. And, Deborah is SO awesome, I can’t think of a better person to attempt to fill your shoes. Congrats on all you and Jan and everyone at WLM has accomplished! And, thank you for friendship and support. xoxo
Thanks Penny, and you’re right Deborah is awesome. So glad we got a chance to work together so we could become friends!
You are super-woman!
I humbled not only by the incredible amount of detail you carry in your head and your ability to make this complex, ever-changing project work so beautifully, but by your generosity of spirit and your trust in me. The size of those shoes you’re leaving behind are far too big for me to fill alone. We’ve already brought on two addition staff members & will be needing more. I know you want to escape to your studio, but I’m so grateful we can all count on your support as we take this wonderful creation into the future.