It can be the most annoying thing in the world. Constantly nagging, oftentimes infuriating, and always circling overhead like a pesky mosquito; patience is one of the emotions that Ive struggled with in my adult life. Not pointing any fingers, but drivers in Orange County might have had a direct effect on that. In stark contrast, I can distinctly remember being praised for my patience as a youngster in elementary school--my fourth grade teacher handing me an award for Outstanding Patience and Understanding.
Let's Talk Cars
My ability to be patient when it comes to working on a car is just fine. I like to take my time in order to avoid making a mistake or having to double back and start over. Beyond that, my sausage fingers just love dumping critical bolts into unforgiving crevices and recesses on or around an engine, so patience is all but mandatory in my case. However, the waiting game always puts my ability to keep calm to test. We've all been there before--whether it's the no problem, it'll be done in two weeks body shop guy who doesn't finish up for another two months, or the forum classifieds transaction that requires countless text messages and PM's just to get a tracking number, no one likes waiting for car stuff. You want it yesterday so you can get the next phase of your build done. I know all too well and I'm right there with you.
Staying On Schedule
The mag editors lag. Period. Well, that's what it looks like from the outside. You went to an event in June, and you didn't see it in print until September--what the hell?! Tell that Rodrez guy to get off his ass and put the story together. While it might seem as if I'm sunbathing on the beach sipping a strawberry daiquiri with my pinky finger pointing outward, I'm actually pushing the next issue to stay on schedule. There's a process that includes putting the stories together, laying them out for print, color processing, and a whole list of other hurdles before it's sent off to the printer who produces the actual issues that are shipped to your mailbox. A schedule is set at the beginning of the year to spread nine issues out over 12 months, while staying within the confines of a set budget. Easy, right? Sure.
Behind the scenes, the freelancers that shoot the feature stories typically process their photos before uploading them to an FTP or shipping out a disc. If it's a shoot that is needed immediately for a deadline or an upcoming issue, time is of the essence. To be completely honest, if there's something I need ASAP, I'm extremely pushy and a bit of a pain in the ass to the contributor so that they understand it's needed now. My patience wears thin very quickly with excuses and delays for both photographers and writers as they've taken the responsibility to provide a service and they should always stand behind their word and their work. The worth of their word as well as some feature car owners' is always questionable as I've been burned more times than I care to admit over the past three to four years. Burned bridges are bad for anyone trying to establish themselves in the freelance world, and trust me when I say that bad news and bad work ethic both travel at breakneck speeds.
The Waiting Game
No doubt about it, sometimes a shoot will sit on the shelf for quite some time. I can remember this reality setting in during my freelance years as I'd been asked to shoot more than a few cars that didn't run for up to a year or more. Forget patience, I was pissed off. Why would they have me shoot a car that wasn't going to run in the next issue? Well, it took some insightful words from a couple of really good editors, namely Bob Hernandez and later Aaron Bonk, who schooled me on how to put a magazine together under a deadline. Having an array of cars available is far better than being pigeonholed and stressed; reaching for anything you can just to complete an issue. That's why in this particular issue you'll find a del Sol, Element, Prelude, NSX, V-6 Integra, and various others, rather than six white '96'-00 hatchbacks with K swaps. Being armed and ready always trumps being shorthanded and outgunned. Along the way I've lost a handful of feature cars due to freelancers taking them to other editors or even car owners sneaking around to other magazines in an effort to get their car featured more than once. It's the nature of this business, and if it was meant to be, it would have been.
Coming To Terms With That Patience Thing
Being a father over the last year has certainly produced a whole new level of patience from within me--a level that I'm pretty proud of. Any parents reading this will no doubt understand that regardless of what mischief they're creating, there's not much internal struggle when your pride and joy cracks a grin and can basically do no wrong. Perhaps that's the reason I didn't lose my head recently when a freelancer bitched me out about some photos that hadn't run yet and just a few weeks later, a few cars that were set to run in HT were found in the pages of another magazine. That's the nature of the business, and as they say, patience is a virtue. ;)