Wall Writings
My Mac Magazine #29, Sept. ’97

For all of Mike’s readers and fans, don’t despair! Mike just decided to take the time off from this issue so that he can move his entire existence to his new residence at a small Iowa college where he starts his first semester this month.

Mike plans on continuing to write for My Mac Magazine as soon as he gets settled and can find a Mac fraternity on the all PC campus. Don’t forget to send Mike an e-mail message and wish him the best.


In the meantime, we would like to reprint a special, not often seen, letter/column Mike wrote for a “My Mac Presents” issue. My Mac Presents #2 was a “Best Of Wall Writings”, and Mike wrote the following forward to it.

(July 1996)
Tim’s asked me to write down a few thoughts for inclusion in this “special edition,” which might be a mistake, since I rarely have just a few thoughts and am more often than not rather long-winded. So, I best just jump right into it and get started.

My own, short-lived ‘zine was destined to never get off the ground. I didn’t have the software, the hardware, the resources, the time, or the know-how to put together a classy publication such as the ones I was trying to emulate. Those two issues could have just as well been text files, for all practical purposes. All of the excuses for graphics that were used were created in a black and white paint program, LightningPaint, and I had never taken the time to really learn how to effectively use DOCMaker. Heck, I was just a kid having some fun, who thought he had to put his two cents in and hoped someone would read it. I remember my goal was to have fifty downloads after three months, and about fifteen subscribers. (Keep in mind I was an eWorld member at the time! 🙂

Well, I never got close to those numbers, and after two issues I could tell I was going nowhere fast. I wasn’t doing justice to what I had set out to do, and I realized that there was no way I could. I wanted to write, that was it. I’m not an artist in any sense of the word, and trying to design and create graphics, correctly place them on the page, and do all the other untold finishing touches that needed to be done was simply too overbearing of a chore for me.

I wanted to keep writing, and I wanted to reach a greater audience, but I couldn’t do it with Wall Writings in its old, DOCMaker form. To make a long story short, I got lucky. The right people had happened to download one of my issues, and they saw potential. Or something like that. Whatever happened, I had people offering me a spot on their writing staffs, and I began to think that having my ‘zine be a bust was really for the best.

Tim says that he doesn’t know my reasons for choosing to write for My Mac, and to tell you the truth, I can’t remember either. But with every month that passes, I feel more and more that I made a good decision. I’ve been with My Mac since January 1996 (issue 9), and I’m glad I jumped on board early enough that I’ve had the chance to see the zine grow by leaps and bounds. I’ve witnessed huge growth in My Mac, in terms of not only readership, but also content and quality.

I remember eagerly awaiting the release of the January issue; I was so anxious to see my name in print. That’s something I doubt I’ll ever tire of – my column is always the first thing I turn to every month, for whatever reason.

I remember being happy about being put at the back. I suppose I fancied myself in the same position as those writers who get the back page in printed magazines. I recall thoughts of John Dvorak, then with MacUser; Guy Kawasaki, then with Macworld; Andy Ihnatko, who now holds that spot in MacUser; and even the Point After page in Sports Illustrated. An awful lot of wishful thinking, to be sure, but it was fun to rationalize that way. Of course, it was just as easy to figure that Tim put me in the back because I was new, because he didn’t want to ruin the order used in previous issues, because mine was the last article he imported into DOCMaker, or because I just plain wasn’t good enough for the front. Either way, now I like to think of the back spot in My Mac as mine, for better or worse, and no one had better try to take it from me! 🙂 (No way, Mike! It’s yours! Now take off the football helmet…-Tim)

To credit me, even in part, for My Mac’s growth in recent months, is, in my mind, really, really flattering. After all, I couldn’t attract a dozen people to subscribe to my own e-zine. I don’t really think that people read My Mac for my stuff, or that having the name “Wall Writings” linked to My Mac attracts new readers. Actually, I think the opposite is true – I’ve ridden the coattails of a project that was on the right track and headed for success all along, and because of it, every month I now reach more than three times the amount of people that live in my home town! (now closer to three hundred time, as of September 1997)

Forty-three hundred people. I have a hard time visualizing forty-three hundred people sitting in front of their Macintosh screens, reading about whatever happened to strike my fancy that month. After all, that’s what Wall Writings is. It’s not a how-to column, or a review column, or a news column; rather, it’s just me, writing about whatever I could think of that was worth writing a few pages on. It’s my own stage, my own podium, where I’m free to say whatever I want on pretty much anything I want, so long as it’s Macintosh-related. And to think I have several thousand people listening… it’s a little mind-boggling.

As Tim mentioned, I am still in high school. ( now college) That makes it even tougher to keep all of this in perspective – when it seems like I’m a wide-eyed kid surrounded by all kinds of things I never dreamed of, it’s because that’s what I am. I’ll be a senior next year at a small school in northwest Iowa. I’ll be captain on the football team, a section leader in the choir, sit second chair in the French Horn section of the school band, and hopefully keep my straight-A average intact. Amidst all of this, I’ll try to make a decision on my future plans, keep some type of social life, and write for My Mac. It should be fun.

Before I go, I’d like to publicly thank Tim Robertson for everything. Big thanks also go out to Russ Walkowich, Adam Karneboge, Pete Miner, and all of the other folks at My Mac. Thanks to Danny Novo of ATPM, John Nemerovski of MacSense, and everyone else who has helped me out thus far, too. No matter what anyone else says, I wouldn’t be here today if wasn’t for all you guys.

I’d like to thank you, the reader, for downloading this file. I hope you enjoy reading my past columns as much I’ve enjoyed writing them. I urge you check out the first Special Edition, which featured Pete Miner, and also to check out My Mac itself, which features a ton of great writers each and every month. Before I start sounding like I just won a Grammy or something, and start getting a big head (too late, some of you might be saying?), I’ll shut up and let you start reading. Enjoy.

Mike Wallinga (mlwall@mtcnet.net)

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