Writing for Tucson Guide: A Love Letter

Tucson Guide Burger coverDear Tucson Guide,

Happy anniversary, dear.

I’m sure you’re not aware that our 20th is coming up. Don’t feel bad; I almost didn’t catch it either. But last week, I was looking at my files after turning in my Fall/Winter 2016 story to you. I noticed that the first one I ever submitted ran in Fall 1996: All Fired Up

That got me thinking about these two decades we’ve been together. Our relationship has been one of my longest and most meaningful.

I’m not even kidding.

I’d moved to Tucson from New York a few years earlier to become a writer. I was inching towards that goal, but very slowly, and mostly relying on my guidebook connections at Frommer’s, Fodor’s, and Rough Guides, where I’d been an editor. I went to  lots of great places and ate lots of great food, but guidebook formats don’t allow for much creative reporting.

Then a new friend thought your restaurant section and I might make good match. He introduced me to your managing editor.

I’m sure she didn’t have a clue how nervous I was about that first assignment.  I probably looked like a big shot on paper.  But you were–still are–great looking, with terrific photography and original art in splashy layouts. Your articles were–still are–top notch.

I was–still am–not entirely convinced that I was a real writer. (Note: “Real” writers are those writers who are not me. I never claimed to be entirely rational.)

I worked hard to make that first piece look easy, light hearted but informative. After endless revisions, I finally felt I’d nailed it. Your editor agreed. I got assignments for several magazines under the umbrella of your parent company, Madden Media: Tucson Monthly, Arizona Living, Tucson Home. They’re all gone now, but you’re still here.

I won’t deny that I used you at times. Clips of my stories for you became stepping stones to larger circulation publications. But–don’t tell anyone you heard it here–some of those national pubs are a pain to work for. Not long ago I got 50 (!) queries on a 700-word piece. And that was for an article that the editor liked. I shudder to think how many I would have gotten if she’d hated it.

Which leads me to another thing I cherish about you: You’re really nice. That may sound insipid, but it’s a high compliment. Some magazines create a toxic atmosphere that filters into every interaction with writers, from the rude way they receive articles to a lack of concern about payment.  Your staff has always been professional and thoughtful. Several members have become good friends.

The years have taken their toll, I know. We’ve both been bruised by what’s happened in print journalism–journalism, period–in these last two decades. You’re now a bi-annual, not a quarterly, which has meant less advertising for you, shorter word counts for me. But you rarely change any of those words. And, although I’m a freelancer, you’ve made me part of your family. I’m still tickled to see my name on the masthead as your Contributing Dining Editor, with a feature in nearly every issue–though I understand that my frequent appearances on your cover is down to the talents of the food photographer, not mine.

This is a long, circuitous way of saying thank you. Your continued confidence in me over the years has both nurtured me and allowed me to spread my wings. That’s the best thing one can hope for in a relationship.

I do worry a bit about our future. I hate to get morbid but, although you are far younger than I am–in your early 30s, if I’m getting that right–I’ll probably outlive you (see bruising developments of print journalism, above). I’m just hoping we can make it to our 25th.

No matter what happens, though, we’ve had a great run.




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About the Author

Edie Jarolim is a writer and editor living in Tucson, Arizona. Sign up on this blog to get updates about her humorous tell-all/memoir, GETTING NAKED FOR MONEY: An Accidental Travel Writer Reveals All.

2 Enlightened Replies

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  1. Kate Kaemerle says:

    Happy Anniversary you two! And many more 🙂

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