The Unnecessary Post About Making Michael Schumacher Blush

The Unnecessary Post About Making Michael Schumacher Blush

On Monday, I posted the second article in the build-up to the 2009 Formula One Championship. The post was a sort of side to the main event, giving some examples of the sites I read, including a short blurb about why I read them, or simply what can be found at the site. Following this early posting – it went up at about 6.30am – I hit the sack, having been up all night toiling away on various bits and bobs. I then took the following day (Tuesday) off, and if you’ll let me, I would like to explain why and give a little insight into the life of a Formula One blogger.

I should quickly add that this post does contain a couple of naughty words. This is because it is largely unedited Ollie-mind.

So it’s Grand Prix Month. The F1-blogosphere has awoken from its winter hibernation and everywhere is abuzz, as if charged with electricity, occasionally sparking but always on edge. It’s an exciting time for Formula One fans, bloggers and readers, and as we count down to Friday Free Practice, it would seem as though time has slowed and these two weeks are taking forever to pass.

But with this newly charged sense of excitement comes extra work, extra news to opine on and generally speaking, us bloggers spend March making sure we all have our shit in one sock. To explain that perhaps odd phrase, it means to make sure we are on-song, on the ball and ready for what is about to happen. Of course, while this is hard work, especially yesterday with all the new regulations and proposals to make sense of, it is fun. When the pace quickens and posts are fired off with the kind of rush that would make even Schumacher blush, the sense of achievement, excitement and satisfaction increases. It is nice to spend a few hours gushing about Elio de Angelis or Tazio Nuvolari, but when it comes down to it, the real crunch comes from the racing that we are all about to see.

But wait. Hang on a minute Ollie, you’re talking as if Formula One blogging is all you do. It sounds like you sit in front of a computer from 9am to 5pm, hacking away at a keyboard and publishing whatever nonsense comes to your mind.

It would be nice to say that BlogF1 pays my mortgage, my electricity and water bills as well as affording me the occasional drink in the Blogger’s Dog. Alas, it doesn’t. Approximately fifty-five to sixty hours of my week is spent away from a computer, in the real world doing my job. Sure, some real jobs do entail sitting at a computer, but mine does not. BlogF1 certainly contributes to my mortgage, I will not lie about that. The links on the homepage providing the bulk of the site’s income. But sometimes, the real world of work takes precedent. As does the real world of my mind.

When I wrote and published that post on Monday morning, I was not aware it would make me feel like crap later on. I was very much aware who I was including, and who I was not, when writing. To not put a link to F1Fanatic.co.uk was a conscious decision. It wasn’t because I don’t ever read Keith’s site, nor was it because I dislike Keith or his site. For none of those statements are true. I chose not to link out to Keith in the list of sites I read because, simply put, I do not read F1Fanatic as much as I used to, and over the winter I noticed my visits decreasing even further from that.

The whys, wheres and reasons don’t really matter to be honest, although in this hungry world of gossip and rumour, I will state if only to quell any speculation in any wondering and wandering minds. F1Fanatic is a child of Keith’s, much like BlogF1 is my little baby. Keith created, wrote, nurtured, developed and honed F1Fanatic from nothing to the successful, well written and well visited site that it is today. There is little doubt in my mind that all of these things will continue as well. However, I found myself visiting less and less as I noticed that my feed reader was showing more news stories. As much as I value Keith’s opinion on news items, being a blog author myself, I tend to stick to the source for these types of stories because there is a chance I myself will write about them.

To add a little more clarity to that, a year or so ago Keith and I were doubling up on a fair amount of content. Mostly occurring over the winter, when news is at a premium and F1-bloggers have to put their thinking caps on to come up with decent content, both sites were publishing very similar content at very similar times. There is nothing wrong with that, but I was well aware of what people might say. “There goes Ollie again, ripping off Keith” or “Keith, I just read that on Ollie’s site, WTF?”. Because of this, I wanted to ensure that my mind and conscious was clear. I don’t think anybody noted the similarity in posts at the time, but that wasn’t the point to me. I wanted to ensure that what I published was of little inspiration from someone else unless explicitly meant to be. Thus, I stopped reading F1Fanatic in the morning. In fact, at the time, I made F1Fanatic the last port of call in my evening routine of browsing, reading and writing.

After a while, F1Fanatic fell off my radar a little unless something with an interesting title (that I had little intention of writing about myself) popped up in my feed reader. And then this winter, there was a small backlash to F1Fanatic incorporating news items written by another company. Keith created a separate feed for those who wished to ignore the news items, but as someone who likes and enjoys actually visiting sites created by others, it made little difference. And it wasn’t the source that lead me to read F1Fanatic less (as it was made known by others), because as I said previously, I didn’t read them anyway. Instead, it was the apparent detraction from Keith’s other, original and usually excellent writing that turned me away. Perhaps it was all in my head, I don’t know – I do admit to being ever so slightly strange, as my followers on Identi.ca will attest to!

I am however, just one of a few thousand visitors to F1Fanatic each and every day; Keith does not write F1Fanatic for me. He writes it for you, just as I do here at BlogF1.

So why does all this lead to an unexpected day off? C’mon Ollie, get to the point, I’ve got the dinner in the oven and EastEnders is about to begin.

The day off occurred because I felt bad at not including one of the F1-blogosphere’s most read sites. Not because I felt I had to, but because my initial reaction was that of offending someone who I absolutely had no intention of. Behind each and every website is a person. You all are looking at a monitor right now, just as I am writing this. But on the other side of that monitor sits a person who spent hundreds, if not thousands of hours developing the sites you look at and enjoy. I know what goes into creating a website. I know what goes into creating original, well written and enjoyable content. It is, with not a word of a lie, thousands of hours. Would you believe me if I told you that the current design of BlogF1 site took several months to construct (and it wasn’t all done by myself either)? The next version of BlogF1’s design was started in December ’08, I think. I can’t remember now, but all this, like all others, takes thousands of hours.

As it turned out, I didn’t offend Keith and once I had responded, Mr Collantine was thankful for the feedback, as I hope he will be this post. This isn’t meant for Keith though, it is meant for myself, to remind myself that I cannot spend every waking minute on BlogF1 and other F1 sites, no matter how much I want to. You see, later on that evening, and after feeling better for understanding I had caused no offense, I managed to haul myself into a debate on Clive’s F1Insight, while simultaneously discussing various points on Identi.ca with “me” from Sidepodcast.

By the time I decided my bed was feeling neglected, I was worn out. I was genuinely exhausted. Not that it was a particularly busy day, nor was it overly strenuous. But for some reason, I felt shattered. An early night to make up for the 23 hour day previously was in order. And when I arose on Tuesday and readied myself for work, I actually felt pretty good. The weather here on the South Coast of England has been rather delightful these past few days and with sunlight blaring into just about every room of my abode, I felt energised once again.

I was meant to write the second F12009 Preview post that day. I was also meant to write something similar to this post. I chose not to, despite making a promise on Identi.ca. Although I was made to feel very special by Saltire (Pitlane Fanatic) because of said promise. Anyway, I digress… I took a day off because I felt I wanted one, I felt that I deserved one, and that I needed to remind myself that BlogF1 is not my job.

BlogF1 is what I enjoy. It keeps me off the streets at night and enables me to talk openly to many like-minded people about something I love. Sometimes it stresses me a little, other times it makes me laugh until I cry. Generally it is all good, and that is primarily because of all those people who take the time to comment and email me. Those who own sites themselves and support through good and bad. Those who bounce ideas off one another, sometimes even just bouncing off one another. Contributing, taking part, joining in and laughing with. Sometimes even laughing at.

I have now completely forgotten the point of my post. What was I trying to say here? Nope, it’s gone. Oh yes! Insights into writing a Formula One blog…

…this wasn’t the post I was going write when I decided to write on Monday evening. In fact, it is quite different. I may publish that in the future, I may not. But in what turned out to be a rather grand day off, this little ditty formulated and conveyed quite nicely what I think I’m wanting to say. And for those waiting for the preview posts, I will catch up tomorrow and run through the weekend. Originally I wasn’t planning to use the weekend, but I likely will now to avoid having several go up on the same day.

Anyway, I’ll let you get back to dinner, EastEnders, breakfast, Big Brother or lunch or whatever.

Here’s to 2009, and the fucked up points system.

PS. There are intentionally no links in this post, and I was meant to mention that I once had a links page, but I took it down a couple of years ago after I read something Tyme White once wrote either on her own site or in 9rules. Tyme said that she (at the time) disliked or disagreed with links pages and/or blogrolls because she didn’t like playing favourites. I realised this good point, and through my own decision, took mine down. I will of course link out in the future in my posts, just as I always have done. And once again, I’m now having difficulty ending a paragraph. So I’ll just end it.

PPS. As I think I’ve written all that can reasonably be expected to be read today, I’ll post today’s testing post tomorrow afternoon, along with the resumption of the preview posts. I have 531 unread items in Google Reader to get through at some point as well. This is what happens when you take a day off! It’s all good though.

PPPS. I chose the picture because it was nice. No other reason. If I could have been bothered, I would of hunted for an atmospheric Schumacher shot. But this post isn’t describing anything of any importance to any part of Formula One, and I didn’t feel like taking another funny shot of myself. So Lewis it is.

PPPPS. And for the final dilemma/PS.: comments on or comments off? Ah, who am I kidding, comments on…

PPPPPS. Ah shit, in all this I forgot the Caption Contest. I’ll put one up before the weekend. And this really is the final post script. G’night all.

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15 comments

  • Just waiting for the glorious weather to break. I bet it happens on Friday, at about 6pm. Just when I’m supposed to be heading West, surfboard in toe. πŸ™‚

  • in 140 chars or less, what are you saying?

    Hmm, 140 characters or less…

    Cheeky monkey.

    That’s 14 inclusive of fullstop. So, did you win the quiz that I missed beating you at? πŸ™‚

  • As someone else who runs a blog and has a real job, I sympathise deeply!

    I often find myself thinking “what if someone says I’ve just ripped off so-and-so” but it really doesn’t happen that much. People generally take care to credit where a news story has come from. I’ve never had a problem with it with you or other F1 bloggers (I will not touch that word ending in ‘-osphere’).

    Incidentally, I’m not using the news feed on the site any more.

  • I was about to skip ahead & shout WHERES MY CAPTION CONTEST, but I got to the end of the PPPPS’s and saw you’re on top of it. Good man.

    Take it easy Ollie.

  • @Keith: Of course you made it very clear in your credits, and it really wasn’t any part of my issue (because until Monday, there wasn’t an issue – and there isn’t now). I generally dislike the company you used because on other sites that used them, it seemed to come across as tabloid-esque headlines and stories. As I said on F1 Insight a couple of days ago, praise due for trying something. And as I also said either here, there or elsewhere, I still read you, just as you probably still read me and have recently commented on (Zanardi et al.). We all talk about the news, we all publish the news in one shape or form. What makes us different though (from the mainstream), is that we can add our opinion and thoughts. And that is what makes the F1-blogosphere special. πŸ™‚

    @Pink: I am and I will. πŸ™‚

  • i got 18 points. you’d have aced me easy.

    Ah, you are learning, kimosabe. 18 points is an improvement, I believe.

    I’ll whoop y’all next week. πŸ˜€

    @Maverick Jolly: Lots of questions about Zanardi for next week’s quiz, please Mister Maverick Jolly Sir. πŸ™‚

    *Looks around* I don’t think anyone noticed. Whoops. Apologies.

  • As I said in response to your original post, I am both proud and happy to count both BlogF1 and F1Fanatic among the first two sites I visit everyday. Both blogs have done a great deal to develop my interest in the sport, and I would not be anywhere near where I am today if it weren’t for both operations. Last but not least, I believe I can count both you and Keith as good friends and collegues, and for that I am both truly blessed and most thankful.

    From my perspective, what I value most about both sites is the expert opinion and analysis offered by you guys, as well as the other posters in the comments. For as much as I love this sport, I have been following it closley for not even a year and a half, and did not grow up surrounded by it within my cultural environment. As a result, I love getting the commentary from both of you, and all the others, on all the news in the F1 landscape.

    Again, just my two cents- keep up the great work everyone, and we’ll all have a blast next weekend:)

  • Rambling it may be but it is also a great post, Ollie. ‘Tis the essence of good writing that we lay our souls bare upon the page for all the world to see.

  • Incidentally, your reasons for reading F1 Fanatic less are the same reasons for my continuing to put it first on my reading list each morning. Because Keith writes about the major news items of the F1 world and has a large readership only too eager to give their take on each item, F1 Fanatic gives me an overview of the opinions existing out there. This provides me with several insights into the news item itself.

    It means that I am less likely to overlook a good and valid point against my argument if I write about the subject myself; I can then deal with that as I write or change my opinion to reflect the added insight. I can also see whether important aspects to the item are being missed – and that is my opportunity, since my aim is always to put a different view from the conventional. And I can decide whether the subject has been adequately covered, in which case I will write about something else. This applies as well to other reputable blogs such as your own, Ollie – I see little point in repeating points made elsewhere unless I have something to add.

    Finally, it lets me know what subjects Keith and others have covered that day and can write instead about less noticeable items that still have an interest. Heikki’s gain in weight is an example – I don’t think I’ve seen that discussed on any other blog, yet it has potentially important implications for drivers’ health and ability to compete in GPs.

    All of which is not to say that you are wrong in your feelings on F1 Fanatic; our different approaches to it are caused by the slightly different aims of our respective blogs. And thank goodness there is a difference – we’d be competing like mad if it were otherwise!

  • First of all, are you OK?

    Secondly, I really don’t understand what all the F1F fuss has been about. I simply dont click stories in my RSS reader that don’t interest me… – Or rather the prospect of reading the discussion doesn’t interest me. Perhaps I’ve skipped over a few more stories recently than I did in the past, but it doesn’t bother me.

    I read F1 blogs to see what other people are thinking, what could be more interesting than reading other people’s opinions on the latest goings-on in something I love? I only read 3, each with a distinct personality in the readership (or commenter-ship):

    BlogF1 tends to have a well thought-out, well written and well considered discussion, which I’m sure is a reflection on your writing style.

    F1F tends to be a bit more of a free-for-all but has a wider “net”, – I’m more likely to come across someone with a view I hadn’t even considered.

    SPC has a chattier feel, perhaps driven by its “last x comments across all articles” page, which sometimes more resembles an IRC channel, – but without quite as much drama πŸ˜‰

    I think my terrible trio works quite well, and fits well with the spare time I have.

  • Last but not least, I believe I can count both you and Keith as good friends and collegues, and for that I am both truly blessed and most thankful.

    You can indeed. I had a coffee with Keith at Goodwood Festival Of Speed last year and he told about this great commenter from his site who always sends him emails, local newspapers and other motor sport related bits and bobs. Keith was truly happy about this and lo-and-behold, I get a newspaper and book on Pocono Raceway land on my doormat just before Christmas. I think I am just as blessed, Gman.

    β€˜Tis the essence of good writing that we lay our souls bare upon the page for all the world to see.

    Yeah, I realised this when I restarted my personal site. I listed some rules at the time that went something along those lines (it’s here if anyone is interested). A certain podcaster reminded me of these rules last night. Not that they were written for BlogF1 in mind – nothing on here is in any way true πŸ˜€ – but I think they are good rules to write by.

    First of all, are you OK?

    Sure I am, thanks for asking. Was probably just going full-circle from overly tired to overly energetic to overly crappy to overly tired again. But it did generate a few thoughts in my head and also made me look at BlogF1 differently, and how I write it (or rather, the time I spend on it).

    Some interesting thoughts from all. I wasn’t asking for or expecting compliments, but thanks to all anyway. I was just trying to point out that sometimes I question things, perhaps too much. Sometimes I have crappy days and don’t feel like writing. It was a post for myself to remind myself in the future that it is okay to take a day off every now and then.

    πŸ™‚

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