Opinion Piece: Blocked! (Street Commodores Editorial Columns)

22 Jul

This is the ninth 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 175 of Street Commodores:

Blocked! (Written 27 July, 2010)

Sure, writing for magazines can be a bloody sweet gig. But every now and then, we all get a decent dose of writer’s block.

Despite the stresses and deadlines, the last seven or eight years have been the best in my working life – without question. Sure, before I moved to Sydney in 1999 I worked in the music industry with is about the most fun industry you can work in. Sadly though the pay is almost always shit and you’ll get kicked in the teeth by it plenty of times.

Working on magazines – on a subject I love, no less – is employment heaven. Now I’m doing it for myself, working from my home office, it’s even better! Except it can be a little hard sometimes, knowing your work is right there in the back room, just crying for some more attention. And I usually give it all the attention it can take – it can become an addiction.

That’s all well and good when the words are flowing free and fast; which is usually the case. Lately though I’ve had one or two jobs that have had me stuck – the words just won’t flow. Not only is that a pain on the hip pocket, it’s also damned frustrating!

So I side step the work that’s giving me trouble. I’ll go shoot a car show, write a different feature car story or check how many hits my blog has got lately… distractions. Yeah, I’ve got plenty of distractions: Twitter, Facebook, my blog, my Flickr page, eBay, the many news sites I read each day… the dozens of magazines I still buy. You get the picture.

It can be funny how you allow yourself to stray from the job at hand when you’re having trouble getting it done – kind of like vehicle projects. You know the story: one of your power windows fails and you can’t figure the damn thing out. Perhaps you’ve got a misfire that is proving difficult to trace or the engine stalls every time you turn hard to one side. Project missteps that have you scratching your hear and swearing in frustration – so you just walk away from it or at the very least, find yourself distracted by the latest issue of Street Commodores sitting on your work bench.

My VP has been AWOL now for four years and the more car shows I get myself to these days, the more I am reminded of the fact was people ask me questions about its progress. Truth be told, it’s only when someone asks me about Project XXX that I actually think about the car these days. I’m disjointed from it, like I don’t even own a VP anymore. It’s sad, a little odd, and true.

I visited the 2010 Meguiar’s MotorEx recently (which was amazing, by the way. Big congrats to Owen Webb and the team) and probably spent half my time there catching up with people I hadn’t seen in a while. That in itself was nice, except that half those people wanted to know where the car was up to. It’s not that I don’t like being asked and I love talking to everyone.

But, what IS the latest? Well, it’s in much the same state as you saw it last. Life gets in the way of big projects. When you first get into modifying cars, you start off with small projects; always making sure that the car can still be driven to work again come Monday morning. I remember those days: swapping the interior out; installing new stereo gear; detailing the brakes; polishing some of the metal work on the coffee table in my little two-bedroom apartment. They were all fun little bits of work that went long ways to improving the look of the white whale.

When you’re faced with such a distended delay in a project like XXX has been suffering, it’s so easy to look back at those years with rose-coloured glasses. It’s so easy to become disheartened and wonder if the effort and time has all been worth it. Wouldn’t it just be easier to throw on a set of wheels, cut the springs and put a free-flowing exhaust on it?

In a word, no. While the waiting admittedly sucks harder than most other inconveniences I’ve lived through in my lifetime, I can only smile while my imagination walks me through the excitement of eventually getting the car back in my own garage with the fabrication work done, the engine bay smoothed and painted and the vehicle moving under its own power. I think that’s what drives most people’s desire to take that step from weekend DIY canvas to long-term serious build.

Hey, at least I’m only suffering writer’s block and not project car block as well. Wait… I just wrote something!

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