Offloading via the keys

One of my favourite things to do is write. I have always found it easy to do, though I’d never claim that writing about old cars for a living is necessarily easy. There is research to be done (I get paid to read books!), and an audience to be considered. Plus, you rarely have the freedom to talk about what you want to. For me, that’s dreadful cars. I love dreadful cars! It’s why my video channel is chock full of them.

I just need to vent my mind man!

But, as much as I’ve enjoyed doing the videos (over 160 of them now!), nothing beats the joy I get from chucking on some bass-heavy music and just emptying my brain via my fingers. This is my caffeine. This is my hit. I haven’t planned this post at all you see, I just started writing it at 1956hrs on the 26th October, and am letting my brain run free. It’s an exhilarating feeling.

You see, I think a lot of people make the mistake of thinking that to be an automotive writer, you must love cars. Well, ok. That bit is true as it happens. It’s be a crap job if I actually liked insects, or clean air. But, you must also dearly love writing. It’s just as big a part of the job spec.

My love of writing began very much when I was at school. The best thing that could happen would be to sit in an English class, get given a spec and told to go write a story. I just would. I wouldn’t think about it, or plan it, I’d just start writing and let the creative juices flow. I’d be lost in my own little world as I constructed storylines. My difficulties came when it was time for editing and proofing. I couldn’t be bothered with that, so I’d just re-write the story completely, changing almost every aspect of it. Thankfully, I’ve got better at that since, or I’d be a pretty poor editor, but back then, tweaking would inevitably evolve into Version 2.0.

I can remember one specific story, which revolved around Macbeth. We had to write a modern day version. My story was based on a girl I knew (surprise) and her horrible boyfriend – the perfect baddie! It opened with a bus ride, because I’m too predictable, an attempted sexual assault (not too bad, because I was squeamish), a girl in a coma and a hero, who caught sight of the incident and is then facing a battle to avoid being killed by our bad guy. Yeah, ok. Shakespeare may have employed a bit more skill and finesse, but then he didn’t have a car chase involving a Land Rover Series III V8 on coil springs and a Toyota Hiace van did he? Bet you didn’t see that coming (no need to guess which one our hero drove).

It had sod all to do with Macbeth really, apart from that attempting to silence witnesses. There wasn’t much killing, because I liked my characters too much to kill them. Even the girl in the coma recovered. I can’t recall what happened to Mr Evil.

I’ve got carried away. However, I’m not editing this post. Either you get all of this, or I’ll have to start again, and I’ve already written over 500 words, and I can’t be bothered.

My point is, writing is simply one of the best things. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I like making music too (ukulele and bass guitar, with occasional piano and even more occasional reed organ), which is wonderful when you’re part of a group. It’s collaborative in a way writing just isn’t.

But, fingers flying is what I love most. It feels exactly the same to me as cruising along in a car at motorway speeds. Thoughts jostle in the mind while you focus on the task is hand. As I do this, I have no idea which words will appear next. Usually ones necessary to complete a sentence I guess, or it’d look pretty random.

This is the very opposite of writer’s block.

I wrote that, then immediately had writer’s block. What are the chances? It clearly alarms the brain and causes a mild panic. Don’t even think about it.

I often think I’d like to get back into story writing. I have occasional bursts, like the time I wrote up a particularly vivid dream I had a few years back. If I can find that one, maybe I’ll post it up for your amusement.

The biggest challenge with writing an actual story is that spark of inspiration. At school, we’d be told what was expected of us and I’d run away with it.  Actually, one time I REALLY ran away with it, when we were given a list of typical phrases you’d expect to hear in a TV Holiday programme. I managed to incorporate all of the lines in a typical British spy thriller. I had fun with that one. I wish I still had a record of it.

But, whenever, as an adult, I’ve tried to engage the brain and write a story, it has ended up going nowhere. Writing a novel is SERIOUSLY hard work. I think the people who do it must actually have a bit of a think before they get started. I’m not so good at that bit. Maybe I need a collaborative partner, someone to say ‘here’s an idea…’ and then off I’ll go.

I’ve tried creative writing groups, and once made the mistake of paying money for an online writing course (a COMPLETE farce), but creative writing groups rarely cover the sort of topics I want to cover, which I’m afraid are very formulaic. But, I’d love to write a romantic drama, or spy thriller which was actually chock full of actually-correct vehicle descriptions, or write a chase scene which is actually vaguely realistic about what a car can or can’t do. Maybe one day I will.

For now, I’m just pressing buttons on a keyboard and soothing my own soul. Thank you for reading and welcome to the inside of my head. The next post will be back to cars. Don’t worry.

3 thoughts on “Offloading via the keys

  1. I am a professional writer too, so I know exactly how you feel. Sadly, writing about cars in my blog is just hobby now, as my daily routine is making special interest brochures about cancer, logistics, business-travel and other things not car-related.

    I has an automotive writer when I lived in Vienna, but since I moved away from there (thankfully), I am sadly not able to do more car-related writing for a living. All the publishers are in Vienna, so it´s difficult to be a writer not living there.

    I am very looking forward to reading more articles from you. And keep the Retro Japanese magazines coming! 😉


    • Thanks. I live many miles away from publishers too. Well, I live many miles away from everywhere! It’s why I’m spending so much time on the road lately. Next Retro Japanese out before Christmas!

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