Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

Love Letters about Cars

You can find out anything on the Internet, even how to become a famous automotive journalist.

390x467xgtibag.jpg.pagespeed.ic.c-A_U9_MJAMy first choice if I returned to the realm of reporting would be baseball. Think of all those afternoons and nights you could sit watching baseball, without worrying about missing anything when you had to run to the restroom or grab a hot dog.

However, landing a baseball gig is probably out of the question, so I went online to explore my next coolest dream – how to write about cars.

I’ve always been fascinated by cars since I was a little kid and kept track of the different models as they passed by. When I was old enough to drive, I gained to experience to know the difference between a beater and a BMW. So why wouldn’t I be a great candidate to test drive and review the latest models and get paid for doing it.

Thinking of no reason why not prompted me to Google “How to become a famous automotive journalist.” Voila, I found an 11-step plan.

Step one – take journalism classes. Check.

Step two – study automotive news. One of my favorite features in the Sunday paper are the brightly written car reviews. That’s my inspiration. Check.

Step three – attend car shows. A buddy represents car dealers and gives me free car show tickets. Check. I also had to go with my 18-year-old daughter to look for a car, which was it’s own kind of car show.

Step four, which involves learning all you can about engineering, is problematic. I was an English major. I went to a college that didn’t have an engineering school, so I had no chance to sneer and make fun of them.

Step five – follow motor sports. Another problem. I get bored watching cars going round and round a track. However, I did enjoy playing Crash Bandicoot on PlayStation, which is kind of the same thing.

Step six – prepare to freelance. In other words, forget about getting hired. Instead, dream up some cool story angles, write them up, send them  to publications and hope you get an envelope with a letter than includes the word “yes” and a check.

Step seven – understand how the automotive industry works. I think reading about how GM waited 10 years before recalling cars with faulty ignition qualifies as understanding how the automotive industry works.

Step eight – develop a thick skin. The website advises that editors “will often be critical.” This requires a calm demeanor even when someone says  your story isn’t worth the exhaust emission from an all-electric car. I plan to include in all my submissions that I’m willing to work for cool car gear.

Step nine – keep a flexible schedule, which is pretty easy if you are unemployed, desperate and writing stories to send to total strangers who edit automotive publications and live in Detroit.

Step 10 – develop your portfolio, which at first will include all the stories you believe should have been published, but weren’t because of a narrow-minded, overweight and dim-witted publisher.

BMW Concept CarStep 11, my favorite – look for a job to cover cars. Perfect, I have followed all the steps and I’m right back where I started, wondering who in the world would hire me to test drive the new BMW i8 concept car with doors that close like swan wings.


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