Touch You... Touch Me...
Ten years ago, I sat down to write my first Wild Fibers editorial. I was excited, exhausted, and riddled with anxiety. After 40 issues (and 40 deadlines) the best thing I can now say is this — nothing has changed. Okay, a few things have changed. In the old days, it would take six, seven, and sometimes eight CDs to hold the magazine file, which I would then take to my printer (an hour and a half drive) to Portland, Maine. My account executive Tina Lajoie would talk me off the ledge as one glitch after another would inevitably unfold, and after every issue, I vowed to do better the next time. Like I said — nothing has changed. Okay, that’s not entirely true. I no longer put the magazine on CDs. In fact, I don’t even have to get in my car. The printing process (from my end) now consists of just two buttons: “Save” and “Send.” I can only describe it in one word: MAGIC!
Gone are the days when I would wait for the courier to deliver a fat envelope to my office containing the magazine galleys. Now, the whole thing is done online saving time, expense, and paper. Unfortunately, this has not saved on exhaustion or anxiety, but that’s not technology’s fault.
The truth is simple; hard work is a byproduct of passion. And if you are a perfectionist about your passion (and many are), you will work even harder. And frankly, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. You keep working until you get it right. Right?
Ten years ago, I had absolutely no idea of what was right. I have subsequently discovered that more than 10,000 readers are an acid test of finding out what’s wrong. If anyone has ever wondered what an editor’s hell looks like, try printing a magazine with a typo on the cover!
However, my tenth anniversary is not the time for self-flagellation — at least, not openly. Instead, it is the time to celebrate 10 years of spectacular travels, extraordinary people, and most of all, wild fibers. I am every bit as excited today meeting farmers and their flocks as I was ten years ago. And sometimes, I am more excited meeting the flocks than the farmers.
I still can’t help occasionally stroking the shoulder of a stranger and casually saying, “Hmmm … is that cashmere you’re wearing?” And I am even more likely to proffer my own sleeve and say, “Touch this — it’s qiviut!”
But whether it’s a cashmere scarf, a qiviut sweater, or wool socks so rough they’ll make your soles bleed, there’s more to Wild Fibers than a giant ball of yarn. My mission, as I have repeatedly stated, is to understand and promote the role natural fibers play in supporting both the people and the land.
The question I must ask after 10 years (and more than one million frequent flyer miles) is if, in fact, I have done just that?
Judging by the letters I have received, the answer is yes. But something has happened in the course of the past 10 years, something quite different than I ever could have imagined; Wild Fibers has served as a curious conduit into people’s hearts.
Unlike most magazines that feature a section for Letters to the Editor, I have always kept those correspondences to myself. Yet, they have offered me some of the most gratifying stories imaginable and there is one, in particular, I will never forget.
A subscriber wrote to “thank me” not only for my work within the world of natural fibers, but for what I had done (inadvertently) to heal a broken relationship. After a lifetime of contentious relations with her father, she was now his caretaker at age 87. Apparently, time had done little to calm the agitated waters between them until one day she began reading Wild Fibers out loud.
She started with the back page (most people do) and after they started laughing she proceeded to read him the rest. Soon, they were talking about faraway places in a way that engaged both their heads and their hearts. There was nothing to argue about. There was no right, nor wrong, no political left or right wool. Suddenly, this little publication so often referred to as “the National Geographic of fibers” had begun to broker peace.
I have never read a copy of Wild Fibers to my parents; they have both been dead more years than I care to remember. And yet, I believe that just maybe, there is a chance that had my mother lived to see the day when her only daughter would have the words “editor and publisher” at the end of her name, we could have smoothed our differences.
In my very first editorial, I promised that the words from Wild Fibers would seek to both educate and entertain its readers. I had little idea back then just how much those words would come from my heart. It is my great hope they have come to find a place in yours.
And now, on to the next chapter. I hope you will be there to join me.