EditorSpeak | A Pretty Good Magazine

Photo by Mim Adkins

“Just reading through the August magazine, and thinking that we put out a pretty good magazine.”

Tamsin Nutter, DSL associate editor, made that comment one July afternoon. She was one of five editors, an art designer, and a production manager still here as DSL wound down to its end. Because of the months-in-advance work schedule required to produce a print magazine, by the time you read this column, we’ll be gone.

Are you perplexed by Tamsin’s comment? After all (you might think), if we are the employees producing the magazine, don’t we know how good it is? Or isn’t? But when you are in the midst of detail-oriented deadline production work as we were for years, day after day, you don’t often stop to look at the finished product.

Just like Lucy and Ethel dealing with that unforgiving assembly line, generally there would be little time for us to savor the August issue when September, October, and November were barreling down the pike. We became master jugglers, a single day’s work often involving checking the August issue’s page proofs for typos, chasing down photos for September, editing October copy, assigning stories for November, and considering writers’ pitches for December.

But this summer has been different. Back this spring, long before you knew DSL’s fate, we knew the dates of our last day of work. (Which is strangely unsettling, I must say.) We kept performing our job functions as usual, but couldn’t ignore that we were working on our last Classroom Connection, our last Inspiration Wall, our last Tips for Teachers column. Unless you’re talking about root canal appointments, “last” is not always a pleasant word.

Our final issue, October, would include stories that celebrated DSL, and we dug back into old issues to find what we needed. Editors Heather Turbeville, Heather Wisner, and Alaina Leary have been with DSL for a short time, but I’ve been here for nine years (beat only by Scott Oxhorn and Mim Adkins at 12 years each). Flipping through old issues was like dusting off the old family photo album—here were all the stories I had worked on and left behind, but hadn’t forgotten.

All jobs have their ups and downs, but I want to be perfectly clear—working with you dance educators has been a dream. I’d start an interview with a teacher, and we’d end up trading stories about students or bonding over common classroom complaints. At the DanceLife Teacher Conference I’d squeeze into a table of teachers wolfing down breakfast before the first class, and everyone would open up, eager to talk—not once did anyone act annoyed or tell me to get lost.

Since college I’ve worked at daily newspapers, for magazines, and with corporate clients, and I can unequivocally say that rudeness is generally part of a journalist’s day. But here I’d interview a studio owner about her inclusion classes and end up wishing I lived closer to her studio so I could teach for her. The only interviews I regret are the ones that—now that the magazine is finished—I won’t get to do.

I am late with this EditorSpeak. Usually I’m ahead of deadline, itching to write about something that happened in one of my dance classes, but I knew this was the last EditorSpeak, and the word “last” was paralyzing. I have to thank Tamsin for her comment, which jolted me out of my stupor and got me back to work.

Yes, August was a pretty good issue, and so were the previous 130-plus. They had to be, because all of you, our faithful, dance educator–readers, deserved no less. And that’s the last word. —Karen White


DSL editor in chief Karen White, a former newspaper reporter and freelance writer, has taught dance in private studios and choreographed musicals since age 17 and has no plans to stop.