Opinion Piece: Back in the Saddle (Street Commodores Editorial Columns)

07 Jun

This is the first in a regular series of editorial pieces we’ll be posting here on the blog, originally written by Hosking Industries’ Ben Hosking for Street Commodores magazine and other magazines he’s completed opinion pieces for. This column appeared in issue 168 of Street Commodores:

Back in the Saddle (Written Feb 3, 2010)

It’s been a fun month, getting back to the kind of work that made me love the magazine business in the first place.

It has been an interesting month for me since I left the cozy confines of my 3x3m office at Street Commodores HQ. I’ve been flat out setting up my own company and learning the ropes of all the kinds of tax nonsense that one needs to know about when they’re running things for themselves. I’ve also been spending a huge amount of time developing story ideas, designing company stationary and generally being creative – something I’ve only really been able to do a few times a year when the next Cruise for Charity sticker needed designing or the rare occasion a website had to be built.

Another thing I’ve missed is having the time and the ability to get out and see car shows at a more relaxed pace, needing only to take photos and talk to car owners. I don’t think I realised how much I missed that until I went to Round 1 of Pinky’s Carpark Showdown at Rooty Hill, NSW.

It was the first show I’d done since deciding to work for myself and was commissioned to cover the shindig by stable mates Street Fords and Extreme Performance. Grabbing the camera and jumping into the mighty ‘Rat, I headed over in the rain and got snapping.

Despite the weather, I was able to reconnect with the very essence of the job that I loved so much a few years ago when I was still only the editor of Street Commodores. Back in the days when there was less stress, only one or two concurrent deadlines and the ability to focus on one or two things at a time.

Walking amongst the rows of cars in attendance on the day, I got to talk to a lot of car owners about the story of their pride and joy, sharing for just a brief moment the passion that brought them to create each vehicle in such a unique and personal way. It isn’t like I haven’t been to car shows in the last few years, don’t get me wrong. However, it was really nice not to be orchestrating half a dozen other staff members, watching budgets and worrying about whether or not the work is getting done – even though it always did (I had excellent staff!).

Pinky’s show – while small – exudes a great vibe. Despite intermittent downpours and a generally bleak day, the car owners who brought their machines out for display all seemed jovial and amiable both to my questioning and to one another.

Sure, there were a number of different judging categories available that most would have been fighting one another for, but one got the feeling that it was more important just being there. When the rain stopped, the empty corridors between the cars filled with other car owners and plenty of locals coming to see what all the fuss was about. For many, I’m sure the interested questioning and positive reactions to their vehicle from the general public is just as rewarding – if not more so – than any plastic trophy for the mantle.

In addition to attending car shows, I’ve also been writing a ton of feature car stories for a number of EMG’s automotive titles – something I haven’t had the chance to do in a long, long time. I forgot how much I used to like it. In fact, I think the last time I wrote a story about a car was almost three years ago when I did a story on Eric Bana’s then-fresh Falcon coupe for Hotrod magazine in the USA.

There was a time when I could tell you which issue pretty much every Street Commodores feature car was in without checking. That was through writing a lot of them myself, or through having put the layout of the magazine together, then checking design proofs, production proofs and final proofing, only to then pore over the finished article again once it was back from the printer. The magazine becomes part of you and I’m happy that this will now become part of Liam’s life. It is truly rewarding to be that close to your work.

While to some all this might seem like some major career backward step. For me though, it’s about returning to what I love and getting a huge amount of satisfaction from my work – not that simply being editor of SC wasn’t rewarding (it’s the management stuff that came after that got tiresome). Let’s not also forget the ultimate – greater work/life balance.

So watch out for me at car shows in NSW and the ACT and if you’ve got a feature car, be prepared for me to be the guy calling you a few times to hassle you for more information and back story. There’s a new/old guy on the block and his name is Ben.

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