Washington State Magazine is just a kid, born 12 years ago, but it’s an accomplished kid, one of my favorite alumni magazines. (Children grow up so fast, these days.) Editor Tim Steury graciously re-sponded to the UMagazino-logy questionnaire.
How long have you been in your job?
I’m a founding editor of the magazine. Our first issue came out in 2001. Before that, I edited Universe, a research magazine here, for 10 years.
What has proven to be the most significant thing you had to learn to do that job?
What has been your best experience at the magazine?
Realizing that I hired well.
What has proven to be your biggest frustration?
Going four years without being able, in spite of their spectacular output, to even recommend any of our staff for a raise. Also, and excuse the banality, lack of time.
What part of your magazine never quite satisfies you, despite everyone’s best effort?
A certain lack of resolution, or fine-tuning, of the aesthetic and ethical. Sorry, I can’t really explain that very well. It’s probably more an existential thing than editorial. (A smattering mix of Keats and Joseph Brodsky is a dangerous thing.) Orion resolves it fairly well, with the unfortunate result of much sanctimony and hand-wringing. So maybe I shouldn’t worry about it.
What story are you proudest to have published?
One? That’s a really hard call. But candidates:
—“The First Casualty,” an essay by war correspondent Tom Tiede ’59 on the dishonesty of selective reporting and the sanitizing of warfare.
—All of the articles in our special issue, “The Beauty of Evolution,” including a really lovely essay by an evolutionary biologist on the grandeur and beauty of evolution.
—Also, our series, “In Season,” on the crops and food of Washington.
If you could commission a story from any writer in the world, who would it be?
Lori Sudermann, Eric Sorensen, Larry Clark, Bill Morelock, Andrea Vogt, Will Hamlin . . . Oh wait, they already write for us! Otherwise, Diana Kennedy, to explore the influence of Mexican immigrants on the cuisine of Washington.
If you weren’t an editor, what would your dream job be?
Dream job? Independent book author with solid contracts for a series of travel/food/culture books about Normandy, the Yucatan, Ukraine, and Argentina. Maybe a pig farmer/poet in Patagonia. Actually, I’m moving into another version of that dream job next year, leaving the university to farm, write, and ferment full time. I just wish the compensation were more promising.