The relationship between a writer and an editor can be a tricky thing. Sometimes — maybe frequently — it’s a big headache for both parties involved. Other times, it’s one of the most incredible experiences you’ll have in your professional life. When I wrote for GOOD magazine, I was edited by Amanda Hess. There was nothing more fun than reading my articles after she was done with them: it was as if she could see into my brain; her changes made me like my thoughts better. After I’d read an essay she’d tweaked, sometimes I would actually like myself better.
I was writing about pot. It was scary. I trusted Amanda, and executive editor Ann Friedman (who took a chance on me and the column in the first place, and to whom I look up not just because she’s very tall but also because she, like Amanda, is just so fucking smart and interesting), and that trust allowed me to be a better writer, to be more honest, and to be a little braver about broaching topics that were covered during the Friedman era with such finesse. I loved to read GOOD as much as I loved to write for it (I have that same sentiment about Grantland). I felt lucky to contribute to GOOD, because there was such immense talent there.
Last night, GOOD had a party for its migration issue. Today, news broke that Amanda and Ann, as well as a number of other staffers, were laid off. I have no idea why this happened. There are ominous clouds forming on the horizon.
Amanda and Ann are two of the most wonderful writers and editors around, and I’m curious to see where they’ll go. I hope they stay in LA, because I like LA better with them here. Wherever they end up will be lucky to have them. I have a folder of essays — the stuff that’s too personal to shove into an email pitch, too long for the blog, too opiniony for a Hollywood Prospectus, and too risky without a glance from that special kind of editor who’s a hundred times smarter than you (who, essentially, teaches you how to be the kind of writer you want to be) — that I hope I can talk Amanda into editing one day, wherever she is. GOOD has lost something irreplaceable, and I can’t help but wonder what will become of it without the people who made it into something so special.