Monday, 21 November 2011

Rider's/writer's block

Just back from an excellent motoring writers' conference at the National Motor Museum with a truly inspirational keynote speech by Haymarket and Autocars' Steve Cropley. Turns out we admire the same writers' - Jenks, LJK Setright, Churchill and Hemmingway, and I loved his typically robust Australian views on writers' block. Turns out he's also a biker with old Brits dating back to 1909.

I managed to catch him at lunch, and ask what he thought of motorcycle magazines and why Haymarket don't have one. "Too many egos, which is why we got rid of TWO,"(latterly Visor Down): was his shock-horror proclamation: "Motorcycle journalists spend too much time telling the reader about themselves, and not enough about the experience." Like me he'd been surprised that Bike recently devoted just 600-odd words to a five day trip through Norway on the new Guzzi Norge: "They described a couple of corners nicely, but I came away knowing nothing about the bike." I listened and learned: turns out Haymarket scribblers are discouraged from even using "I" in their copy...

More worrying was that the conference seemed mainly to feature middle-aged car nuts looking for a "change of direction." Then I read that 100,000 people in the UK have registered as newly self employed over the last four months alone. Joining the dots, it's not hard to see where those folk who loose jobs but have too many assets to claim benefits have gone. One delegate moaned to a speaker that he never received so much as an acknowledgement for his unsolicited submissions to editors. Well, chum, 100,000 "Thanks, but no thanks" letters would make a hell of dent in Autocars' postage budget...

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