I’ve made some personal resolutions this year, including one to eat more vegetables of more varied colors more often.
Another is to travel back to Chicago–I missed my yearly visit in 2011.
I also have some professional resolutions. One includes finally blogging about all of my food recommendations in Chicago. People often ask me where to eat in Chicago before they go on trips. I’ve been there so many times, that it makes sense to have some kind of evolving blog post to record where I’ve enjoyed eating and what I’d like to try next in my other hometown.
I also intend to finally write that “My 7 Links” post that Frodnesor at Food for Thought nominated me for. It seems like a good beginning of the year exercise.
Another one of my professional resolutions for 2012 is to blog more often and more freely–basically to follow Amanda Hesser in foregoing the role of expert in favor of participating in a community. I know this isn’t earth shattering in the world of journalism, but it is sort of a stepping out for me. It’s not like I’ve ever fully embraced the role of expert or authority. That’s never really been my style, although I do consider myself to be quite opinionated. At the same time, I tend to shy away from blogging about projects I’m currently working on (like articles or radio stories) or things I’m thinking about in favor of more carefully sourced, researched and verified work. In short, until I have something pretty authoratative to show. I’m finding lately that blogging about something that’s in process can be useful in terms of thinking about a story or just starting a conversation that could lead somewhere really interesting. Again, I know–”duh.”
It’s basically a path I’ve been heading down in my journalistic/writing work, but I just need to jump. I’m going to be criticized. I’m going to be wrong sometimes. My hope is that if I just keep my head down and continue to aim for integrity and good work, making that process more transparent won’t bite me in the butt. Basically, I think I just need to get over it and get out of my own way.
That’s part of the reason I started my Sound Bite project. Nancy Ancrum and I started that blog to to showcase our radio work. We also did it to make communicating with other people more a part of our work. Not that it isn’t already, but it can help broaden our sources and inspiration.
This doesn’t mean I’m going to abandon conscientiousness either. However, the whole process of producing, whether it’s a radio feature or a blog post, is a lot more fun, when you think about it like a dinner party conversation rather than a treatise that must forever stand the test of time.
As Andrew Sullivan wrote in “Why I Blog,”
A blog, therefore, bobs on the surface of the ocean but has its anchorage in waters deeper than those print media is technologically able to exploit. It disempowers the writer to that extent, of course. The blogger can get away with less and afford fewer pretensions of authority. He is—more than any writer of the past—a node among other nodes, connected but unfinished without the links and the comments and the track-backs that make the blogosphere, at its best, a conversation, rather than a production.
and then later…
To blog is therefore to let go of your writing in a way, to hold it at arm’s length, open it to scrutiny, allow it to float in the ether for a while, and to let others, as Montaigne did, pivot you toward relative truth. A blogger will notice this almost immediately upon starting. Some e-mailers, unsurprisingly, know more about a subject than the blogger does. They will send links, stories, and facts, challenging the blogger’s view of the world, sometimes outright refuting it, but more frequently adding context and nuance and complexity to an idea. The role of a blogger is not to defend against this but to embrace it. He is similar in this way to the host of a dinner party. He can provoke discussion or take a position, even passionately, but he also must create an atmosphere in which others want to participate.
And of course, there are also the reasons of accountability and transparency. That’s why I’m telling you these resolutions. Now I’ve put them out there and now I’ve got to do them.
So, I know this is more meta than I usually get in this blog. I’ve been thinking about the whole process a lot more in the past few months, as I just wrapped up an online “Food Blog U” seminar/workshop taught by one of my writing idols, Molly O’Neill as part of the Cook N Scribble series. Thanks to the Cook N Scribble folks for pointing me towards the two articles linked to in this post. Also, a big thanks to that workshop for helping me think more clearly about what I’m doing and how I’m going to do it better.