There’s a lot of talk amongst the seasoned pros of the motoring journalism world about how to ‘save’ motoring journalism. Top writer Neil Briscoe recently wrote a very well written article on just this topic, so I felt somewhat inclined to deliver the background on myself and air some views.
I got into the motoring writing gig after being stuck at home with a very serious back injury. I was more or less unable to walk, and for a good few months I hardly made it further than the end of my street or if I was really lucky, I got to visit the physiotherapist for some painful rehabilitation work. During this rather horrible period of my life, I began to suffer with depression. I can vividly recall the total feeling of hopelessness, and the nights I spent crying myself to sleep. It felt like it would never end. What saved me was the love of my friends and family, and writing about cars.
|I write about cars for a (meagre) living, for car magazines, business websites, lifestyle outlets and many more, but I started out without a single client and no income. I am painfully aware of just how difficult it is to break in to the industry and make it work, and I’m always happy to help out new writers in the same way that others helped me out
However, that doesn’t mean I’ll welcome everybody – there are chancers, blaggers and the workshy who want nothing more than to play with cars and I’ve no interest in helping them. Those that show passion, dedication, desire and ability are the ones I want to work with. Like Jonny.
It’s also important that I encourage new writers to demand money. Budgets at FSD are tight, something I can’t hide from, but I pay as much as I can and often as I can. Sadly, Jonny’s not making any money on this piece.
Jonny’s words here are presented unedited. There’s no subbing, no corrections, not even a spell check. This is all Jonny, with no outside interference.
He doesn’t know that I also rock an excellent leather jacket.
Writing about cars took me out of my head, out of my injury, and into my passion. Cars have been the one thing I’ve loved more than anything else since I was a tiny, tiny person. When I became a big person, things got in the way more. Jobs, girlfriends, debts, you know, grown up stuff. My injury was almost certainly the worst thing that happened to me, but I can say one thing for it. It took me away from those distractions and made me focus on getting my thoughts and my opinions onto a screen, and subsequently onto websites for everybody to have a read.
I honestly didn’t know if I was good at writing. I simply did it because it helped me escape from my awful reality briefly and because above all else – I loved it. Before I was even signed up to write for some websites, my early work included writing about my car I could no longer drive due to the injury, publically challenging Henry Catchpole from EVO on why I thought the Koenigssegg One:1 was boring (thanks for taking part by the way Henry), and offending almost all of America by saying the last-gen Mazda MX-5 was a good car, but not a great sports car. I’ve been called a troll, an idiot, out of touch, and Alex Kersten from Car Throttle has even threatened to gun me down in a German forest. You don’t provoke those sorts of reactions unless you have some pretty strong opinions.
I got into writing properly by politely asking Chris Auty of Driving Spirit if I could send him some bits to read and maybe post. Being the lovely man he is, he accepted, and through him I began to meet some other fine people. (Motoring’s)Phil Huff of Front Seat Driver has taken me under his wing, and also reduced me to tears of laughter by telling me some quite sensational stories of his various adventures. Ben Harrington of Driving Torque and Tim Barnes-Clay of just about everywhere frequently make me chuckle and give me insight into how I can improve and grow as a writer. The pair of them also have some swish as hell leather jackets, and who doesn’t want to hang out with guys rocking cool threads? Gavin Big-Surname guided me through my first international launch, and even more importantly than that, he trusted me enough to represent Petrolblog on the recent Civic Type R launch.
Ok, ok, so I know all these cool people, but what’s the point I’m trying to make? The point is one or all of these guys could have kicked me in the balls, called me a tosser, and told me to go back to school. But, they didn’t – they took a shot on me. They’ve given me guidance, trusted me, and encouraged me every step of the way, and hopefully I’ve delivered some pretty good content for them and their publications in return.
From where I was to where I am now staggers me on a daily basis, but I’m not making a living from this, in actual fact, this gig costs me. I still have to have a job to pay the bills, and quite often I’ll be awake into the early hours of the morning working on stuff, but I love it, and I never feel like I’ve worked hard. Further on from that though, being involved in this profession and despite being the smallest fish in the pond this is where I truly feel myself, my happiest. I have faith one day I will be making my living from this, but for now I’m just happy to be learning about this new world I’ve found myself in and – hopefully -delivering quality material to those of you who love these machines just as much as I do.
I trust in the judgement of the senior pros of this profession, and I trust them to tell me if I am a problem or a tumour on the industry. In my heart I do not believe I am. I try to share my passions with readers and followers on social networks, and attempt to share the thoughts and views that I feel are really important to whatever subject matter I am covering. If anybody in this profession feels I am a problem, I’d appreciate them coming to me to have it out with me. I’m an open book guys.
It is an honour to be part of such a vibrant, talented, friendly, and welcoming community. I consider the people I’ve met true friends as well as colleagues, and let it never be said that I do not realise just how lucky I am to be doing what I do. When a living wage arrives from this, it will simply be validation for following my heart and pursuing my dreams at great personal risk. Until then, I’ll continue to push myself in the hope it arrives sooner rather than later.