walter

The writer at his desk wearing his 10-year Weekly jacket. Behind him, his wife's paintings of their two kids, hand-written messages from readers, and three $1 bills he won in bets about grammar from editors made up his desk decor. 

When I walked into the Seaside headquarters of Monterey County Weekly 13 years ago, to apply for a job as a writer, a loud rap song was bumping through the lobby. I asked the office manager, Linda Maceira, what that was about. She said it was “Hip-Hop Thursday.” Right then I knew I had to work there.

And it’s been an awesome experience, filled with work and creativity, stress and fun, deadlines and adrenaline, solo work and teamwork. But now, after 13 years, I have given notice to depart, and my last day is today, July 1. But I didn’t want to leave without saying thank you to a bunch of people who have made the last 13 years so memorable.

Without readers, the act of arranging words into a sensible order would lose purpose, and stories would sit in a static limbo with no impact. It’s been gratifying as a writer to have my work read, sometimes regularly. Journalism writing happens at a fast pace, and it’s not the most lucrative profession, but for those who do it anyway, its rewards are deep and meaningful. Connecting to people who receive our words is one of them. So thank you very much for reading.

When I was a comic book fan as a kid, the letters to the editor was one of my favorite sections because that’s where you found thoughtful exchange between creator and audience. The Weekly’s news stories inspired the most responses from readers, as they should. But as the arts writer, I’ve received a share of letters, emails, Facebook comments and hand-written greeting cards. Thank you to everyone who, after reading something of mine, wrote back in response. (Thank you, also, to those who read and didn’t respond; I don’t assume anything about that.)

I’m humbled by people’s willingness to share their stories, their work, the most formative or painful or exuberant parts of their lives, with someone like me who merely asks them to. I know it can be an anxious process. I tried to repay your risk by being true to the spirit and details of what you revealed to me. I apologize if I fell short. And I thank everyone who let themselves be subjects of stories, or lent their ideas and experience for quotes to help illuminate them.

There have been multitudes of people who have helped stories come to fruition: administrative assistants, volunteers, media relations professionals, family members, folks who work in offices and who are not ever named but have responded to my urgent requests for the sake of the story. Thank you for your help.

This county is so full with creative people that I often had my pick of a bunch of interesting things to see and cover, from art openings to film screenings to plays to readings, all of it. Many of you gave me access to your creative works and your performances venues, even if not for an assigned story then for my education or even just my entertainment. I believed that everything is material for writing, if not directly then indirectly, if not consciously then subconsciously. So thank you to everyone who generously invited me into your event to inform me and my writing.

The body of my writing work would have come out a lot worse if not for the care and professionalism of my colleagues in the editorial department who edited, vetted, questioned and proofed my work until it was worth presenting to the public. (If you want more proof of their smarts and caring and humor, check out their tweets on the Weekly website's lively Twitter feed.) Folks from the production and advertising departments also sometimes caught errors before they made their way to publication—it's a true collaboration. Thank you to my former colleagues, my friends, for making my writing better. And thank you for creating a standard of excellence that I was proud to work among.

I started my writing career in advertising and marketing, so I appreciate what advertisers do to keep a media vehicle worthy of attention properly fueled. I’ve had valuable freedom and independence with my work at the paper, which has let me write with integrity. I’ve worked for publications where that wasn’t the case. Thank you to Bradley Zeve and Erik Cushman for that, and for the things you do to keep that marvelous machine running.

A long time ago, I took a shift in delivering the Weekly to one of its routes—Big Sur. I got to meet all kinds of people, and they greeted the arrival of the paper like it was a friend come to visit. It felt good and validating, but it was work: it took me six hours, til midnight, to finish. Thank you to the truck drivers who deliver the freshly printed paper to the Weekly's Seaside headquarters, and thank you to the delivery drivers who have then gotten it to the readers each week.

My wife has guided me through the twists and turns of the art world. She’s listened to my random musings about stories in the works. She’s encouraged my pursuit of creative writing, what she calls my art. She’s been my longest and most astute reader, my most caring critic, my most trusted champion. Thank you, Enid.

My mom has collected hundreds of my print stories, arranged them into binders, and when full, has gifted them to me. Thank you, mom.

I’ve written for Monterey County Weekly for 13 years. I’ve had my say—it’s all there on the website if you care to look—and it’s been an honor to do a job that’s felt like a service to the community I love. But it’s time for some new people to speak. Besides, you can’t say it all; there’s always more. If I have forgotten any of the crucial people who make up this newspaper business, I apologize, and that will just go to prove that point.

Monterey County is my home, the home of my family, we love it here, and I’ll still be in the community. But sometimes one story has to end to make way for the next story; and the prospects of the next story are what keep us going.

Take care. And thank you.

Walter Ryce has been an arts writer, calendar editor, culture columnist, sometime photographer, and one-time web content coordinator for the Monterey County Weekly. He began working at the paper, which is based in his hometown of Seaside, in 2007.

Walter Ryce has been an arts writer, calendar editor, culture columnist, sometime photographer, and one-time web content coordinator for the Monterey County Weekly. He began working at the paper, which is based in his hometown of Seaside, in 2007.

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(1) comment

Diane Rowe

I will miss you, Walter. Since the Covid-19 crisis, I subscribed as an insider to Monterey County Now. I'm very thankful I had the chance to enjoy your writing. Good luck to you at your new position at CSUMB. We are quite fortunate that you will continue to live in Seaside and contribute to our community. Best regards to you and your family.

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