Pity the poor editors. As March turned into April, Wendy Manwarren Generes, editor of San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles Magazine (for which I have written) was trying to get the upcoming May issue to bed.
“Last Monday (March 30th), we had a call with the publisher (Mark McKinnon),” she tells me by phone. “We just chatted about things: San Diego Magazine was already closing its doors. And we wanted to make sure that Mark was not thinking of doing the same. And it appeared at that point that we were not closing.
“But my creative director Emily Jones and I are definitely planners. She and I had already put into motion plans for a digital-only edition. And we had already modified our contents. For instance, ‘Around Town,’ in which we interview one person, and see a certain part of San Diego through their design-savvy eyes: as things started closing up, we decided that ‘Around Town’ probably wasn’t the best option. Some things unfortunately won’t re-open.”
“So we modified that story into one called ‘Our editors’ picks for our favorite places to escape. Secret places around the city.’ Unfortunately, the trails and beaches also shut down.
“Then travel: this coming May issue, we were taking our readers to Laguna Beach, Paso Robles, San Francisco, design destinations. We also had to pull that story.
“And we changed our lifestyle feature at the back to be ‘Things for your own wellbeing.’ Things that you could do at home: easy gardening projects, easy organizing projects, easy interior design projects, even mindful cleaning. Whatever, as the target moved, so did we.”
But, after all that, it just took one email.
“On Tuesday afternoon (March 24) we received an email informing us that [our owners] would not be continuing SDHG/L. We were all being laid off. So on Wednesday, we went in and cleaned out our offices. And that was it.”
Wendy thinks a moment. “Quite honestly, this would have been a good opportunity for any publisher to rethink what it means to publish in 2020. The home-and-garden concept is always relevant. Unfortunately, I’m not the owner.”
But more than the magazine, it’s the days with her group, her editorial cricca, that Wendy Generes mourns.
There’s silence for a moment. Then I hear her choke up.
“Sorry. I get emotional about it. But I already miss the group of women I adored working with. We supported one another, we were collaborative. It was a dream team. So tight. Even though we had people in their twenties, in their sixties, people with young kids... we all brought something to the table. And when we collaborated — which we did for the entire magazine — nothing was just a one-person show. Everything was a collaborative effort, and because of that, I think we got our best work. We were really good at challenging one another, but also giving a small idea huge legs that took things to other places. Like our October issue: Maximalist! Everything over the top! That was just a thought one of us brought to a meeting. It grew into one of our best issues.”