The Question of Quality

How good is good enough to post in a blog?

Are four links to old Pink Floyd concert videos good enough to post? A link to turn yourself into a yellow cartoon character? A desiderata for nontraditional college students? An Elvis video? A cucumber salad recipe?

I started this blog clueless and very quickly decided to go for what I will call quality rather than unrestrained self-expression. For the purposes of the writing I do for this blog, I will call entries that are either informational, thought-provoking or truly insightful “quality” entries. The kudzu article I’d call informational — offering no insight, but full of information you probably hadn’t heard before. And insightful? I’d call my piece about the death of my cat insightful, at least to someone my age, as I learned to accept death to the point of actually feeling gladness if it came on a sunny day, on the cusp of a passage to suffering. And thought-provoking? I liked my piece on the power of positive thinking, in which I argued that thinking good thoughts really does work, just not in the way that anyone who wants money from you thinks it does. (Cynicism, like pink crocs and blue mascara, is a choice I question and cannot bear to wear myself. I find it unflattering on anyone. It is simply not my way.)

The writer in me is always aware of her audience, and so while others happily write only for themselves, that doesn’t appeal to me. It never has. I like to write for you. I rarely write for pure pleasure unto myself alone. I like knowing that someone will read, will use. To do otherwise feels like knitting up a sweater for myself — and then only wearing it when no one is looking.

I find that writing for myself alone feels lonely and self-involved — and this is a purely personal perception, like not liking pink crocs or blue mascara. I like having others along for the ride. I like the work of keeping you entertained. I like that you are out there. I like reading the things you write, too. I like the community that blogging brings, which was a pleasant and totally unexpected surprise.

I think I have drawn that community because of blogging with quality, and I know that I have entered that community elsewhere because of quality blog entries.

And lately I think I’ve kind of given up on quality as I defined it, or at least decided to post things that are merely entertaining, or that simply serve as a record of my life so that people can keep up with my day, my week, the state of my life. I find comfort in knowing that people who like me have a way to know how my week has gone. I find that I like people knowing what I am up to.

But quality is always on my mind. Over the summer I relaxed my blog-standards as I relaxed my life. It’s pretty hard to be uptight and have a sunburn at the same time. I dropped interesting, provoking and insightful, and decided that my new standard was only this: That anything I posted needed to be something that I’d click on if I saw it on another blog.

I suppose all I am saying is that I am still learning. What is worth posting? What are my guidelines? What are my themes? There is no handbook. There is only me learning. Ancora imparo.

Maybe I should worry less about quality and more about that fine and overdue lesson from the summer: Being myself and having fun. Of course, good work is a personal hallmark, probably the personal hallmark that I pride myself on.

Shit. When are you quality, and when are you just relaxing and having fun — or just telling the story that is your day? One’s always interfering with the other in here in my blog. So much has already been said, and so many people have nothing new or interesting to add to the conversation that is the World. More than almost anything, I just don’t want to be one of them. I don’t often declare myself as ambitious, but if I have one truly transcendent and overarching goal in life, it’s simply to find some rare and real insight, and to share it with whomever cares to seek it out.

4 responses to “The Question of Quality

  1. I have a problem with ELECTRON BLUE. My elderly parents read it. Thus I cannot reveal many interesting things about my life. I can’t talk about my health because it makes them hysterical if I am the least bit indisposed. I can’t talk happily about buying anything nice because they complain that I spent money (even if it’s my own money I earned). I must uphold upper-middle-intellectual Boston standards of language and propriety. And many more things I must self-censor. As a result the Electron is getting harder to write. I have not been able to come up with many posts this month. So your honesty is refreshing.

  2. I get the money-spending thing, too. Maybe it’s just generational, or parental, or something that controlling parents just do no matter how frugally their adult child lives. No matter how I scale my lifestyle down, I am a spendthrift. My mother never seems to understand that people grow wiser, learn and change, and that I’m not the person I was in my teens or my twenties, or even just a few years ago. I adore my mother, but I also have to fight to make it clear to her where her authority ends.

    I don’t think that anyone I’m related to reads this blog, despite my invitation. My family is very loving, but not always very connected.

    I’m sorry that you feel must hold your writing in check, and I wish you freedom. I’ll laugh one day when I read a post about you feeling like shit and going on a big shopping spree to cheer yourself up…

  3. Jennifer, if you’re writing, I’m reading. I’ve enjoyed all of it, and hope to continue for some time to come.

    My mom used to give me well meaning but guilt-tinged suggestions. Once I got into my thirties and forties, I let her know that it was hurtful and unwelcome, and she has given it up.

    Recovery and therapy have been good to us!

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