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In light of that very thought, I've been struggling in the past week to hit on a new topic and come up with content that felt new and fresh. I do this with Christmas gifts as well, and while that may seem like an odd jump in thought, bear with me. I'm a year-round shopper for Christmas gifts. I enjoy finding that absolutely perfect gift for each loved one, and if I happen upon such a perfect item in January, or in August, then I purchase it and tuck it away. The fun, for me, is hitting upon that divinely perfect gift for that loved one....the one that will make their eyes light up and an absurdly pleased and surprised smile to spread across their face. Some years I miss the mark and find gifts that are pleasing, but aren't over the top perfect. Obviously, I strive for the former, because it's just so much fun to find that right note. I strive for that same perfect note with my writing here in my blog.
I want what I write to make my readers' eyes light up. I want to paint a picture so strongly evocative with words that you will literally see what I'm describing in your mind's eye. I want you to smell that freshly cut grass, feel the ache in your heart of a sad moment, experience that moment of standing on an East Tennessee mountainside, breathing in the clean air. I want whatever concept I'm talking about to leave a permanent impression on your heart. And this need had me pondering where my priorities should be. Does every post have to have a wildly, impactful effect? Or is a more subtle, softly communicated message just as powerful. The answer is that both have equal, yet different merit. Success isn't necessarily measured by a tangible yardstick.
Not long ago, I was watching some Oprah moment on television. Oprah was talking about different musical artists and authors who hit the public eye in an epic manner with their first attempt - the first album sold tens of millions of copies, or their first published book hit the New York Times Best Seller List and stayed there for endless weeks. These people then spend decades chasing that phenomenon, hoping to reproduce the same result. The reality is that sometimes it isn't always possible to hit that perfect note every single time. Sometimes, doing a really good job should be enough.
This is something I've contemplated a great deal in the past ten days or so, as I've searched for the next topic to write about. I have about eight blog articles in my drafts folder that are not bad efforts at all, but that also just feel sort of blah to me. I don't know about other bloggers out there, but most likely all of us live in mortal fear of publishing blogs that present a blah energy. In fact, it bothers me so much that I will go longer than most without posting new content, simply because nothing is really hitting that high standard that I demand of myself.
Do I think this is healthy? Not really. I know that I'm my own worst critic. We all are guilty of this, if we're honest. I hope that the people who follow my blog look forward to reading what I write, and that they expect a certain level of quality from me. Then I also have the self-deprecating thought that people might not even give a second thought to what I write here. Sometimes we just get kicked into this odd spiral of thought and there's endless wrestling that occurs. Ego is certainly in the mix. Anyone who creates, whether it is with words, or music, or art, or any other medium should be able to admit that it matters to them that their work is well received. I'd be lying if I said otherwise.
So, tonight I'm wrestling with that spiral of thought and struggling to produce a blog post that I deem worthy of being published. I am not so bold as to equate myself to best selling authors or music artists, that I'm chasing some mythical chimera of excellence everytime I write here on my blog. What I'm saying is that I do chase a certain inner feeling of balance with what I write. It bothers me immensely to post a blog that is mediocre in my own eyes. Apparently I am more ruthless and demanding of myself than I had been aware of. And to be honest, if a dear friend were wrestling with this same issue, I would be all over them, admonishing them to lighten up, cut themselves some slack and to celebrate their creative gifts without so much stress being self-inflicted.
Is this post worthy, in my own eyes of being published? I think so. If nothing else, perhaps I'm admitting some frailties and relaxing a bit. Perhaps I've recognized that I sometimes stray from the original goal, which has always been to write for the pure enjoyment of it all. I admit that I prefer feeling that high level of satisfaction with each blog post that I write - the ones that, when I click to post, I know without a doubt are going to really resonate with others. I daresay that all writers have that goal in the forefront of their mind. I also remind myself that I don't find it necessary to write in a loud, shocking, attention-seeking manner. Why, then, would I find it necessary for every post I publish to have a dramatic impact? Why have I overlooked that the softer, more gentle messages I communicate have their own impact? Good questions, both.
Life is short and our....my energies...are much better put towards enjoying life. I do admit to having a talent for getting in my own way. Tonight, I'm writing a new page into my personal book of lessons, and that is to occasionally step aside. Allow myself to be more human. This blog post isn't perfect, it might not be sparkling and vibrating at that highest level of excellence that I normally prefer and demand of myself, but it is addressing an important issue. My whole life, writing has been one of my biggest joys. Ultimately, my focus should be there....on the simple act of writing itself.
Excellence should be something to celebrate, but not to the exclusion of all else. Two years ago, I was only vaguely aware of the blogging world, and today I have been actively blogging and building a worldwide readership. That accomplishment alone is plenty to celebrate. That, and recognizing that the better part of valor is to allow for beauty in the mundane as well as the brightly sparkling moments. I think of the difference in a color photograph juxtaposed next to the same image in black and white. Both are breathtaking and riveting in their own unique fashion. Quiet beauty shines and glows just as strongly, after all....and can exist with equal impact in words.