Most magazines bore me. To death.
Nowadays, writers try to be lofty, erudite, out of reach, filling precious space with a lot of fancy, hard-to-understand words designed solely to show off their Ivy League pedigree, rather than to inform, immerse, and enlighten readers from all walks of life, from the gas station mechanic to the blues guitarist to the fellow Ivy League grad… Or, they’re paraphrasing from press releases, trying to come off as original, very badly.
Not my friend Ellen Hiatt, a free-lance writer/editor with her own marketing company.
I met Hiatt at a busy Edmonds, Wash. coffee house two years before the pandemic for my own writing assignment on a new, Snohomish County publication called “ Welcome Magazine.” The last thing on my mind was showcasing Washington state’s first certified Creative District, not after a crushing defeat at a job interview as a writer for a plastic surgeon.
I still remember the attorney at the interview politely telling me I didn’t have the medical writing qualifications for the job (I’m pretty sure I could’ve done in my sleep). He already had his mind made up. It didn’t matter if I already broke down many technical papers for trade magazines covering the building, hospitality, and RV industries. The mayors and senators I interviewed. The way I could make anything boring sound like the most interesting anecdote in the world, friend to friend. How I could totally sell the good work this plastic surgeon was doing for the community, not just his clientele.
None of that mattered when I met Hiatt in the line to order our latte and coffee cake, and talk Edmonds. We hit it off immediately, she, gracious, soft-spoken, incredibly knowledgeable, and me, frazzled, loud, sleep-deprived, but an open book, open to whatever she had time to show me.
She showed me everything that mattered, walking me from boutique to taproom to museum-style gem and rock store, suggesting this place for live music, that place for local books, oh the cocktails here are divine, we have to visit Scratch, they won awards for distilled vodka and gin, we can have a taste.
My article, “ Destination Edmonds,” appeared in Welcome Magazine ‘s inaugural Fall/Winter 2019–2020 issue. I secretly hated it; I knew I could do better, given more sleep, an improved employment situation on the homefront (Amazon also forced my husband to quit), and an overall better attitude about life (dealing with functional depression and anxiety)…knowing what I knew about myself and my past work.
But my friend Ellen Hiatt told me that spread kickstarted a renewed appreciation for the seaside city and jacked up her gig with the city of Edmonds to produce a quality online visitor resource, Visit Edmonds, which I now help contribute to as a blogger.
She believed in me when I didn’t. Not only that, she hired me to work with her on her varied projects, putting her money where her mouth is. She liked the lyricism I brought.
I like everything about her, from her kind, professional demeanor to her astute sense of news, to her ability to bring out the best in people — in-person and in her features.
I wish I could write like her. Just 1/10th, and I could change the world.
While I am wordy, obtuse to incomprehensible, she is succinct yet comprehensive, poetic in everything that counts, nothing wasted, and most importantly, she’s able to see the heroic, the idyllic and artistic in the most everyday.
Last year when she won a contract with the city of Monroe, also in Snohomish County, I celebrated with her. Despite suffering back-to-back blows — taking care of and losing an ailing mother, losing a troubled brother, money problems, getting evicted from the family home by estranged sisters — she remained strong, steadfast, and kind to all she met and dealt with…and, she finished her projects, including the new Monroe magazine, which is out right now.
I am in love with her stories of furniture makers, bakers, and Stevens Pass thrill-seekers on a wintry high. I’m right there with these artisans and nature lovers.
She has that ability, you know.
PS. She got the rental. Serendipity, thank you.
Originally published at https://carolbankswebercoggie.wordpress.com on October 19, 2021.