Pausing to Reconsider
February 11th, 2011

Last night as I put the finishing touches on my Friday post, GAP and I got to talking about it.  As I told him of my topic and my perspective on it he furrowed his brow.  He didn’t like where I was going.  I’ve written many posts that GAP disagrees with, and I’m fine with that.  I don’t write with or for his approval.  But while I don’t care if our opinions on a topic differ, I care greatly what he thinks of my writing.

Last night, while he did disagree with my perspective, his larger objection was with my approach.  He felt that I was parroting a refrain that has been exhausted in the national media, without taking the time to consider it critically or to look at the other side.  He was right.  His criticism stung then (it still does) but I have a greater appreciation for it this morning.

So I come to you today with half a post, but not half a point.  We should all exercise careful judgment when choosing the people whom we allow to assert their influence over our beliefs and actions.  But once we’ve made those choices we should hear what our counterparts have to say, even when we don’t like it.  My conversation last night was certainly one of those times.

My original post will be published at some point, once I’ve researched it further, based it in fact rather than anecdote, and broadened my perspective to represent other views.  In the meantime I am thankful that GAP (a bit like Mrs. Elliott) reminded me that I am capable of more.  It seems that these are lessons we must learn more than once in our lives.

8 Responses to “Pausing to Reconsider”

  1. Aidan Donnelley Rowley @ Ivy League Insecurities Says:

    So interesting. And I must say I am very curious to know what you planned to write about. My question is though: What level of scrutiny should we apply to our blog posts? Isn’t this place YOURS, a haven where you come to ask questions and muddle through answers? Aren’t you allowed to post without research, and without consent of others? Aren’t we all allowed to splash those bits of ourselves onto the screen without perfect editorial and contextual polish?

    Just asking. And, yes, playing a bit of hardball :)

  2. Gale Says:

    Aidan – You are always welcome to play hardball with me! As to your questions… Of course this place is mine. And of course I can come here without fully formed answers. I think my post last Friday is a great example. I came to a topic with ambivalence. And the extensive discussion that ensued in comments helped me to work through a lot of my own confusion. I was perfectly comfortable writing about a concept that was only half-formed in my mind because I was candid about my conundrum. Today’s intended post was in a different vein. It was opinionated, which is fine, but my opinions weren’t very well substantiated.

    The very name of this blog communicates a standard I have set for myself. I wasn’t living up to my own standard. In an effort to have something to post I lowered the bar. GAP called me out, and I’m glad he did. I think we’ve all had experiences when someone told us something we didn’t want to hear. But if the other person is someone we trust and admire, then we owe it to them – and to ourselves! – to take it to heart. GAP and I challenge each other all the time. And neither of us always cedes the ground in question. But the challenges we present to each other help us sort through our own ideas and beliefs.

    Truth be told, I was struggling to come up with a topic for today. I grasped at something that had intrigued me and then started writing without first truly thinking. And as almost any blogger will admit, posts that don’t come easily are almost never very good. Had I given the topic the requisite thought and analysis, it likely would have flowed easily. Had it flowed easily I probably wouldn’t have discussed it with GAP in the first place. (We discuss very few of my posts before they are published.) But I am grateful that it didn’t flow, and that I in turn started the conversation with GAP. I suspect that without our talk last night I would have posted something I wasn’t especially proud of. Instead I posted something honest and difficult and humbling. And I feel much better about it.

  3. Meg Says:

    might be interesting to post both- I think it can be fun to have a thought/feeling and explore it as far as you want. Then do the research and see if it changes your perspective. It gives some insight into how everyone tends to come up with their conclusions- we rarely questions our influences. We usually question other peoples ideas/influences- how often do you ask your husband or friend “who told you that?” and then decide if you think they are a reliable source. but how often do we re-evaluate our own sources…

  4. BigLittleWolf Says:

    An excellent reminder. And your discourse with Aidan is an interesting one. I, too, have a certain standard I set for myself. Right now, I cannot live up to it – “real life” is requiring 98% of my attention – and under hard deadlines with mighty consequences.

    But I don’t want to stop writing each morning – even if all I have is 20 minutes to do so. It is, for me, my gift to me.

    I hate when I have to write so quickly and when I feel as though the words are not rich, the sentiments not clearly expressed, and nothing new is presented in my approach. I believe it comes down to our purpose and our realities when it comes to writing/blogging.

    Some topics are light fare; others, certainly not. For serious pieces and serious issues – I do hold myself to a standard that requires greater time and care in what I produce. And, for lack of a better phrase, “journalistic integrity.”

  5. Gale Says:

    Meg – That is an interesting idea. A little case study on what my gut was saying (unburdened by pesky details like facts) versus what I found out to be true after doing some research. And I think you are right about re-evaluating our own sources. It’s easy to validate someone as a reliable source, and then allow ourselves to be spoon-fed from that source without again exposing them to an honest critque. Thanks for your thoughts!

  6. Anne Says:

    Fascinating. I kind of agree with Aidan–our words don’t always need to be perfectly polished before they deserve to see the light of day. And I also get your need to “reach high” and set standards that you’ve come to embody in this blog. Sloppy writing is sloppy writing–but I can’t imagine anything you would publish is ever going to be sloppy. So here’s what I think…

    A lot of this is personality. Just because something is anecdotal doesn’t make it any less “true”. I imagine GAP would challenge me on that, and I know my husband would too. It’s like the old argument between fiction and nonfiction. Something can be “true” without being factual. Saying that it’s any less valid or important to examine a subject based on personal stories than by addressing it through researched scrutiny is…in its own way…biased. Now, if you were going to draw sweeping generalized conclusions based on your one experience, I can see how that would be problematic. Guess it totally depends on what you were going to say. In the end, I tend to believe that statistics and numbers can be just as misleading as examining someone’s personal and authentic perspective. Don’t apologize for your “approach”.

    I like Meg’s idea:) Give us both!

  7. Sandy Says:

    Oh no, how long will you leave your readers hanging? If it’s the topic I’m thinking it is- “a refrain that has been exhausted in the national media,” it is an unwieldy and many-tentacled debate leading us in many directions. I’m wondering which aspect you chose to write about…

    Can you give a hint without revealing your fully formed opinion? Whatever the topic is, you are an elegant thinker and writer and I’d love to hear more on both sides of the discussion with GAP.

  8. Ten Dollar Thoughts » Blog Archive » Success and Failure – Version 1 (From the Gut)* Says:

    [...] was challenged on it because I was writing based on anecdote and hunch, rather than on fact.  So I paused to reconsider whether or not I should post it at all.  One commenter offered the bright idea to post two versions – one based on my [...]