Hi. I’m Walking Bob, and someone recently asked me why I write for Davis Life Magazine online and not for magazines that people can buy at their local bookstore or newsstand. I’ve seen my words appear in magazines, newspapers, books and online over the past 33 years, but there are reasons why Davis Life Magazine has become my favorite place to write.
First of all, there is the chance I have to track down my own stories, do the research, take the photographs, and then decide how I want things to look online. That kind of freedom is rare. My earliest writing was for educational journals that would often make such dramatic cuts in the editing process that what they published bore little resemblance to what I had submitted.
Eventually I began writing for my local newspaper in Southern California, the Riverside Press-Enterprise, and for Inland Empire Magazine, a magazine similar to Sacramento Magazine. In those publications I was working with editors who had respect for their writers and only did the gentle edits that were necessary, but I had no control over the layout or photos and didn’t know what the article would look like until it appeared in print.
I had over 100 articles appear in those two publications over ten years and I was making anywhere from $10 to $100 an article. Once in awhile I’d get a letter to the editor or a comment from a friend, so I knew some of the work got read, but I didn’t feel much direct contact with an audience. When I moved to Davis in 1994, I got busy with my work life and didn’t do much writing that wasn’t related to my career.
Then I started writing for Davis Life Magazine, first doing feature stories and an occasional cover photo, then doing my “Walking Bob” blog. Now my work appears weekly and the number of comments I receive at the magazine, through Facebook, through email and just walking around town has grown exponentially. It’s hard to beat having a car toot its horn and hearing someone yell out, “There’s Walking Bob,” when I’m walking around town. The value of having people read and respond to what I write has much greater value than any pay I received before. (Although, if you want to sponsor “Walking Bob”, let’s talk.)
I can also tell people to go online for entries I wrote in April or September or last week, because they’re all accessible. In the past, once the newspaper or magazine was replaced by the next edition, the only way anyone could see what I wrote was if I left it sitting on the coffee table at home and invited them over.
I even like things better as a reader. The latest issue of Inland Empire had about thirty articles I could read, if I picked up a copy for $3.95. I compared that to 43 articles that had been published, one or two or three a day, for the past month at Davis Life Magazine for free and ready to be read. Being able to announce that “Monticello will open tomorrow” without having to plan a couple months ahead to get a note in a monthly magazine is another luxury of immediacy that comes with being an online magazine.
If you’re a reader, thank you for reading Davis Life Magazine and Walking Bob. If you’re a writer or photographer, get your ideas and your work to Cary Arnold so I can start seeing your words and photos the next time I read Davis Life Magazine. As for me, I remain Walking Bob, searching for something new to write about every Friday.