Monday 31 May 2010. That’s the date I began changing my life. Not that it necessarily needed to change – I was eight years into my teaching career and had enjoyed the last two of those as Head of Sixth Form. But on that date I said something to a student and realised I wasn’t listening to myself.
I explained my belief that everyone was more capable at something or knew more about a particular subject than anyone else they knew. I ventured that true job satisfaction could be achieved by turning that passion into a career. And then the penny dropped.
Clichéd maybe, but cars have been my obsession since I was a toddler, learning to differentiate the plethora of models from their rear lights until I was able to read the badges, of course. Looking at cars soon progressed into buying car books and magazines as well as collecting sales brochures from showrooms. Most geeky kids would have grown out of this by their mid-teens when they discovered life’s more interesting distractions, yet I somehow carried on. My library now totals over 30,000 items, and it’s still growing.
I’d always had ability, albeit latent, to write engagingly but I’d seldom sought opportunities to do so outside my profession.
Having not just ignited my own curiosity but fuelled it so greatly it’d become a raging inferno, I scoured the internet for routes into motoring journalism. It looked like a closed shop. I didn’t fancy returning to university as a thirty-something to study journalism, so with no guidance to the contrary, I decided to create my own destiny.
Six weeks after that moment of realisation, I’d secured a book deal (for a book I really must finish soon) and shortly after that began to harness the power of Twitter to publicise the impending motoring tome.
Early 2011 saw me take my first foray into blogging, and before long I was securing car loans from manufacturers in order to review them. Few experiences in my life match the joyous incongruousness of having a £425,000 Rolls-Royce delivered to the school car park.
As my reputation in the industry grew, offers of freelance work from established and respected online and print titles began to pour in, and I capped 2012 by being named the Guild of Motoring Writers’ inaugural Breakthrough Blogger.
I didn’t see out the summer term of 2013. A week short of the third anniversary of setting myself a new course, I handed in my resignation to become a full-time journalist on one of the UK’s most-visited car review websites. While I won’t pretend there’s much to rival that fulfilment of knowing you’ve had a positive impact on a young man or woman’s life, there’s contentment in being able to revel in my passion on a daily basis.
Which brings me here to The Lincolnite, where every fortnight I’ll be musing motoring matters and articulating all things automotive, with a Lincoln-centric focus, naturally. And even if cars aren’t your thing, I’ve served as a reminder that if you want something badly enough, and you’re prepared to work for it, you will achieve it.
Keith Jones is a self-confessed car geek from Lincoln with over 30,000 car books, magazines and sales brochures being testament to that. Keith took his first steps in motoring writing launching his blog in 2011, contributing to Autocar, BBC 5 Live, CBS and MSN in the following months. In 2013, he gave up his teaching career to become a staff writer at Parkers.