Is a bad poem worse than no poem?

I have been thinking about the Kurt Vonnegut quote I posted yesterday.

The problem with writing is: A) starting B) finishing C) doing it well.

I am grossly aware of how unqualified I am to write about the things I deem most important to write about. We are all experts at ourselves, so lifestyle blogging is hard to mess up. You can’t fail at your own genre and you get to choose your level of difficulty. While that is an honest and true, it isn’t challenging. It doesn’t mean that everything has a Full House moment at the end, but if it doesn’t have substance, it is like ice cream cake for lunch. You freaking enjoy the quick sugar high, but all you’re left with is an empty stomach and type 2 diabetes. And you can’t get those minutes back. And yeah, I had ice cream cake the last three days for lunch.

I have toyed with the romantic idea of simply not posting if I have nothing worth noting.

There are a few schools of thought here. On the one hand, Anne Lamott says to write about what you’d love to come upon. For me this means truth spoken honestly and humbly. I piggyback that onto this Mike Monteiro quote from a few days ago, “You are responsible for the things you help put in the world. If you do not think something should exist in the world, do not participate in it.”

I’m not sure where I land ideologically. Is it better to create a half ass paragraph for the sake of habit forming and consistency? Or to be my own best editor and Minister of Quality Control? Do I make this a place where I vow to never participate in what will waste my / my readers’ time? Or do I contribute to the internet’s black hole in the name of discipline? Thoughts?

Via Things Organized Neatly



  1. Anonymous
    Posted 06/22/2012 at 8:10 AM | Permalink | Reply

    This question made me think of Wilco’s What Light, specifically the line “just sing what you feel, don’t let anyone say it’s wrong.” I think Tweedy would probably put yourself in the anyone category. Reading and writing – perhaps all forms of art – take a healthy dose of gfeem (grace for everybody, even me). Also, reading this blog and listening to sky blue sky makes for a dang good start to the morning.

    • Posted 06/22/2012 at 10:51 AM | Permalink | Reply

      listened to it. it’s good. thanks for the thought, chad. i couldn’t decide if this was a little ballsy or not really ballsy at all. i’d like to practice taking risks.

  2. Posted 06/22/2012 at 10:28 AM | Permalink | Reply

    The problem is that if you start to blog only if you think you have something to say, you’ll get a block eventually, because you start ”dethinking” everything. In the long run, that\’s a trap.

    Additionally – it’s quite a relief for me when the texts other bloggers producers are not that perfect, as well as the DIY projects they present. It makes me feel on eye level with them, thinking ”Oh well, I can do as well as they do.” That’s why I especially love blogs where the blogger openly and honestly deals with mistakes and failures. If you only read blog of people showing their very very best, like a perfect world, this makes you feel inferior.

  3. Posted 06/24/2012 at 12:52 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I’ve been one of those lurking readers. I got to your blog via happening on a pin of one of your I’d Rather Be Short illustrations on Pinterest. And, I must say, I’ve enjoyed every post I’ve read since then.

    I’ve actually embraced the romantic idea of not writing if I didn’t feel I had anything worth writing about. Which seems to have resulted in me not writing (nor particularly feeling like writing) for 5-6 months now. This came after a year where I’d planned on a year-long project with the intent of forming a more regular writing/posting habit. It might’ve worked out better had I not encountered some technical difficulties 6 months in, but such is life. I don’t think the dearth of writing is due to the forced project, by the way. It just sort of worked out that way.

    As I’m now toying with the idea of hopping back on the writing wagon, and as someone who, in a relatively short time, has found themselves smitten with your blog, I’m inclined to want to shout, “Please don’t stop!”

    To echo the first comment, it does seem to be a practice that requires granting grace to everyone, selves included. Additionally, there is something charming and lovely that can happen in the half ass paragraphs. Sometimes for ourselves, in that it shines light on a previously unconcidered facet of life or sparks a new idea. Sometimes for our readers, whether it’s new light or a spark, or even some sense of comradarie. I’m sure there are some blogs you read, and take pleasure in, even when the posts may lend themselves to more mundane or day-to-day sort of things. Which means I’m being wholly unoriginal at this point and could’ve essentially “dittoed” your first two comments. :)

    My long-winded first comment on your blog to get to this point: you write lovely things and I enjoy reading them. As long as you enjoy writing them, please continue to do so. If granting grace to yourself on a given day means you find yourself posting a half ass paragraph, I will still gladly read it. If on another day it means that you need to give yourself some space to not post while you let the creative juices work their way up/simmer/flow, I will understand.

    In many ways, this indefinite writing break has been nice, in that I haven’t thought about how to frame happenings into a blog post and I’ve long since abandoned any sense of obligation to document events or ideas. But I’ve also missed a lot of things about it.

    It sounds like you’re still enjoying more aspects of writing here to outweigh the pull for not writing. So, while it may be selfish of me to advocate that you continue to do so, I really do hope you stick with it. I’ve found that sometimes those seemingly run of the mill posts can be like smiles from a stranger you didn’t know you needed until you got them. It isn’t just contributing to the black hole of the internet all the time. So I hope you don’t feel pressured if it isn’t all exploring new territory or stretching into taking risks as often as you maybe feel it should. I think that it’s something you want to pursue is a good sign that you will find the way to do it.

    And I will now stop trying to rival the length of your post in the comments. ;) Well, except for this last thing, thank you. Thank you for putting this, you, out here. It has been a pleasure to read and partake.

    • Posted 06/24/2012 at 8:21 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Yes! I agree/sympathize with every word of this comment.

    • Posted 06/24/2012 at 1:57 PM | Permalink | Reply

      This was so good. Thank you, Sydney. Those are great thoughts, and at a great time. I will probably continue on as I have been, but I just want to be mindful that this isn’t about me. I suppose that if I keep that in mind, this online teepee will sustain itself. I’m sure for every good post, there are at least 10 subpar posts — but practice needs to happen.

      Thank you again. Those sorts of comments are very rare and incredibly affirming.

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