Honored Oregon Columnist Spreads His Talents
you, the columnist
By Dave Lieber
When a newspaper is named to Editor & Publisher’s annual “10 Newspapers That Do It Right” list, a columnist is not usually pictured with top editors. But when The Register-Guard in Eugene, Ore. was placed on the 2012 list, columnist Bob Welch was pictured front and center.
The 10-year NSNC member and two-time NSNC column contest winner does it right in his long-running metro column “Close to Home” (read them here and also here) three times a week. He does it right in his books, too. He’s written 15 and is an expert marketer. But most of all, Bob does it right as he creates new career paths for himself beyond the newspaper.
Bob Welch is a role model for what columnists can offer the public aside from written stories.
He’s busy. His November e-newsletter, called Pebble in the Water Inspiration, invites readers to one of five book signings scattered from Nov. 19-27. Amazingly, Bob has produced three newly released books this year:
- Resolve: From the Jungles of WWII Bataan, the Epic Story of a Soldier, a Flag and a Promise Kept
- 52 Little Lessons from It’s a Wonderful Life
- Cascade Summer: My Adventure on Oregon’s Pacific Crest Trail
You can find them at his revamped website, BobWelch.net.
But here’s something else he does: Bob launched Beachside Writers workshops in 2005. He’s hosted 15 workshops, helping more than 500 people. The March 1-3, 2013, conference at Yachats, Ore. costs $319, and it “includes workshop, notebook, three meals, snacks, live lunch-time music and, of course, our famous Friday Night S’moresfest,” his website explains.
All his work hasn’t made him rich, he says. But he’s happy.
Bob, a youthful 58, says, “If you measure success by doing what you love, by having the privilege of meeting amazing people, going amazing places and having amazing experiences … if you measure success by having the privilege of inspiring people, making them laugh or simply making them think, then perhaps I’ve done OK.”
What’s his day like?
“I get up between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m., work on books until 9 a.m. then leave for my newspaper job. In the evenings, I work on books, write or give talks, maybe go sailing at a lake 20 minutes from where I live.
“And last summer I found the time to hike the 452-mile portion of Oregon’s Pacific Crest Trail. I work hard, yes. But I find time for my amazingly understanding wife, Sally, two sons and daughters-in-law and four grandchildren.”
Bob Welch tips for you, the columnist:
- “Writing may be an art, but it’s also a discipline. As in my cross-country running days you have to go when it hurts. Hemingway said, ‘Easy writing makes hard reading.’”
- “Much of your success depends on how you answer the following question, not with your words but with your actions: ‘How badly do you want it?’”
- “Most stories fail because whether they’re 25 inches or 90,000 words, the writer hasn’t discovered precisely what the story is about. The others that fail are usually because of a lack of research. Too many people try to cook the meal before gathering the right ingredients.”
- “Readers love suspense. Don’t be afraid to save the best stuff for last, to tell a story, rather than resort to the summary lead.”
- “Be fair and honest. Tell the truth. Every time.”
Visit BobWelch.net to see how Bob puts it all together.
• • •