Growing up, I always poured over and marveled at my dad’s issues of Sunset magazine and believed it presented the ideal life.
Now, if you don’t live in the western US, you’ve probably never heard of this publication. Basically, it’s a lifestyle magazine extraordinaire, showcasing the best of food, home decorating, gardening and travel of the 13 states making up the West.
Plants in their featured articles grew lush and colorful, never wilted or struggling for life like most people’s. The home decor always looked model-house perfect, and I only knew one person’s house (my uncle’s Frank Lloyd-Wright Fallingwater copy) who’s measured up to that standard. Their writers traveled to places I always dreamed about visiting, and they made places I’ve already been to, like San Diego and Seattle, that much more appealing.
And their food…oh, those glorious recipes that inspired me to make beef enchiladas when I was 9 to 10, to somewhat less-than-appetizing results. I think my family gamely tried them through chewing on and wincing at charcoal-black tortillas. But thanks to Sunset, I learned how to cook and thankfully improved as I matured.
Its tagline for the longest time was “living in the West,” which is exactly what I’ve done for my entire life. The first twenty-eight years in California, two in Arizona, six more in California and now eleven in Colorado, so I believe I’m particularly well-suited for this publication’s demographic. Especially now, when I’ve gotten securely into middle age and can afford some of the things featured in its pages.
So why exactly am I writing about a regional mag that perhaps only half of you know about, and the other half may never be fortunate enough to pick up?
It’s because of Sunset, I’ve landed where I am today.
From sixth grade onward, I’ve always wanted to be a writer…of fiction. Easy to do when you’re a kid, not so easy when you’re a young adult. So then I thought about advertising copywriting, which I wrote about on the blog of my other site, in the late 80’s. That didn’t quite work out, so I submitted to the safe route of being an educator for the next 20+ years.
Fast forward to now…I’m a freelance copywriter, travel writer and photographer – and actually getting paid for it all. But even though I believed that my copywriting niche would be self-help, naturally from being school psychologist, I was irrevocably drawn to write about travel and food, which is what I mostly focus on today. I could also delve into some home decorating and interior design if the opportunity presented itself. But not gardening – kind of ironic for the daughter of an agriculture businessman/farmer.
And I owe that to the time I’d spend looking through this wonderful publication, for the last 40-some years.
Now I’m the subscriber, and my kids want to prepare some of the food from its pages, or visit the places showcased so beautifully in their pictures. That kind of makes me feel a little proud, like I’m passing on family tradition.
Someday, I’d love to write an article or photograph for these guys. That time will come…I just have to gather up enough confidence (and clips) that the chances will increase. Or write copy – whatever works. But I’ll tell them that they’ve been a core inspiration in my life, not just professionally but personally, too.
I told RAS I’d love to live in a Sunset magazine. Even after all this time, that still represents my ideal life.