Archive for November, 2012


The Saddle (getting back on, and why we fall off)

I’ll be the first one to talk about my on inconsistency when it comes to writing. While I know that great writers toil over their compositions for months and years to produce their best work, I a) don’t consider myself in any league near the greats and b) don’t really have the luxury of both time and wealth to kick off to Malta or something with a typewriter and lose myself in the inspiration of the environment.

No, I’m modest living-auto-website-guy with updates to make, a small team to manage and an editorial schedule to maintain.

And I haven’t.

So what happened? What will now follow can be taken as a list of excuses but what will mainly be an exercise in exploring just where exactly my review writing went.

First off, lets bring you up to speed. This blog, once thriving with car reviews and commentary has been rather quiet, yes? well when you go from blog to true-blue independent automotive website, the little “writing about cars” hobby sort of vanishes. If I’m writing for work, why the hell am I gonna write for fun? and if I do, why the hell won’t I put it on the main site? That’s where my writing energy has been focused. Since last posting, AutoKinesis has completed its trademarking odyssey, taken on a couple more members of the team (both writing and video/photography) updated the editorial schedule to feature more content, and changed our review styles. I’ve also had a busy year getting my hands on some wonderful new rides. Where might those reviews be? well to be fair, I did write most of them, but the past couple months have been a little….what’s the word? crazy? busy? it’s hard to sum up without delving into personal matters, and while I like you, internet, and we go way back, I don’t feel comfortable sharing that much with you.

Personal life aside, there’s been more than a few wrenches into the gears of operation. I’ll start by saying that the end of the year tends to wind down with automotive news. manufacturers are already launching their new models, the holidays and the shopping for them overshadow everything, and there’s not a whole lot to talk about except previews for the auto show season. I like to take this time to throttle back and revamp operations; see what works, what didn’t, what to change, and map out broad strokes for next year.

I’m already in the mindset of slowing down. There’s cause number one. I want to shift my focus from writing and this year I have someone else to cover at least some of the content. Hari, a good friend and stalwart news/lifestyle editor, has been on hand to provide his insight on much of the past months’ topical subjects. I’ll say now that he basically held the site together for a solid two months while I have written nary a published word.

Then there was the accident. yes, the guy who drives over a dozen different cars every year in different speeds/conditions/locations went and got into a wreck. Lord knows the odds were stacked against me, given the amount of time I spend behind the wheel. I keep being told I was “lucky,” which keeps making me cringe every time it’s uttered. They mean “not hurt” and “alive,” but I can only be truly thankful that no one else was involved and it was my car, not a press vehicle. Yeah, not wishing it was someone else’s property, glad it was my own. Surprised? Well I like the trust earned over the years to keep manufacturers giving me cars, and I wouldn’t like that to go away. Now, the accident. Believe me when I say it makes a good story with a dramatic and climactic ending, and even sort of has a positive resolution. Thing is, I sort of don’t want to publicly splash the details online. Auto-writing-guy is a little embarrassed even though I can say wholeheartedly that it wasn’t my fault. It was the result of road conditions and not of my being careless, reckless, foolish, distracted or emotional. I was driving along and the shit hit the fan. I guess another thing I should be thankful for because I’d be gutting myself if this big accident was the result of my own stupidity.

So you don;t get the details, and I admit it’s unfair. You’ll also want to know what ultimately happened to the car and I can tell you my dear Mustang was very nearly written off, but will grace the roads again, repaired to original glory very soon.

That’s reason number one. Number two is another twanging of the strings of fate and that would be megastorm Sandy, the hurricane-like weather pattern of destruction that swept through the east coast causing devastation to New York, New Jersey, and other parts of new England. My family and friends made it out with little property damage and no injuries, and for that I am extremely thankful for. We were inconvenienced for about a week with no power and reliable phone service but we got through ok. It was like a little vacation from the 21st century. Things like that make running a website difficult. Trivial too. There’s a webcomic that illustrates programmers sitting at the top of the world, but a solar flare wipes out electronics globally, and suddenly they wished they’d learned masonry. I chuckled, conscious that I’d be similarly screwed. With Sandy came a fuel shortage that further complicated things. all in all, it took nearly 3 weeks to return to a state of relative normalcy. It was time to get back to business.

Now third. This one sucks because it remains unresolved. I’m happy to say that I’m writing this from a brand new computer, replacing my aging laptop that was constantly threatening to fail on me. The bad news is that it made good on that threat. Pictures, photoshop and article assets, outlines and reviews are all on there, inaccessible. I’m still going through the whole data recovery drama, and I haven’t broken down in a heap just yet because from what I’ve been able to do, I can at least say its all still on there, it’s just getting to it.

That’s fairly it, really. rock solid circumstances that make a slightly reasonable case as to why I haven’t written any reviews. But you know what? If I’m honest? It’s not any of those things. I just haven’t felt like it.

I know, I know, “who cares of you feel like it? just do it, it’s your job!” I can hear you thinking that because it echoes what I’ve been telling myself. I wish it were that simple. I wish I could simply buckle down and assemble an article like I was putting together a model airplane or putting together a puzzle. The issue is I have to produce the components from scratch. Creativity is a bitch, and you’ll often hear people lament about how easy it must be for people to sit around and write for a living rather than doing laborious work. Writers sometimes feel like that. Honestly, on the surface, sitting in my office and whipping up a clever website post is much easier than delivering furniture or plumbing. The flip side to that is you never have to be inspired to repair a sink or dolly a couch into a service elevator, you just shut up and do it, like it or not.

Being forced to write is like being made to pee on command. I can’t really do it unless I feel like doing so. Can I squeeze out a trickle in a pinch? maybe, but it’ll hardly be satisfactory. It’s the best comparison I think I can make (although the one solace I can take away from that analogy is that I can at least write while people are looking.)

How do I get back into it? well I just did this, which is basically the length of a standard review, give or take. This mental sputum really had no framework to it, so it was easy to gob up. Test drives require a lot more structure, research and fact checking, as well as the opinion bits that I add. Maybe this is what gets me back on track; the first step to regaining my writing momentum. We’ll see. It’ll have to wait though. I sort of used up my time doing this.

I wrote a 1,500 word article about how I haven’t been able to write, and I used me writing time to write it, and not doing my writing.