I’ve been debating quitting for months now.
There are clear moments when the decision seems real and finalized: That’s it, I’m quitting right now, I tell myself with conviction.
There are murky moments when I wonder if I should quit, and I weigh the pros and cons of blogging, mope a little bit, and tell myself I’ll ponder over it later, tomorrow, just not now.
Then there are times when I realize no matter how much I think I’m going to quit, I just…can’t. Not yet, anyway.
If you’re a blogger, you’ll know what I mean. Your blog is your baby. It’s entirely and completely yours. You’ve built it up from scratch, nurtured it with constant posts and pictures, strengthened it with a base of community.
It’s a powerful, all-purpose platform/soapbox for you to share your personal thoughts and rambles. It may be the one place where you can freely entertain your passions, and it’s amazing because it connects you to people who share your quirks and interests.
But with a powerful tool like blogging comes certain responsibilities. You determine your own rules and restrictions for your blog, yet at the same time, you yourself suffer whatever consequence from your words. If you push some buttons, there’s no editor to blame but yourself. And even if there are no deadlines, you give yourself pressure to post, and at the same time, you’re wondering if all this effort is worth it, because who’s really going to care if you write or not? And blah, blah, blah.
However, I need my blog. I need it because I’m a journalist.
You see, as a journalist, I struggle—constantly—in keeping the balance between being objective and being too PR. When I meet and interview an individual, I can’t help wanting to write only good things about the person. When I watch a movie or visit a restaurant, no matter how terrible it is, I dislike writing a criticizing article, just because I know how much effort and dedication went into the project.
But being an ethical journalist means always keeping a balance, always being fair to both sides, always being disengaged from personal opinions and emotions. Well, on my blog, it’s the one place where I can throw that aside and indulge in writing the piece I really want.
Let’s take my visit to Lisa & Mo’s kitchen, for example.
After meeting the gluten-free baking team at The Secret Fork, I’ve been wanting to visit their kitchen. I thought their story would make an interesting piece because of the increasing demand for gluten-free products in the market.
I had never heard of the gluten-free diet or celiac disease until about a few years ago. I think it’s still a pretty unfamiliar condition in Asia, but already, more than 3 million Americans suffer from celiac disease.
I don’t know what I would do if I were to be diagnosed with celiac disease. I know a few friends personally who deal with it, and it really affects their lifestyle. One wrong meal can cause weeks of pain and discomfort. Not to mention, I would die if I had to give up my beloved bolillos, fluffy pancakes, pork dumplings, beef noodles, pizza…oh dear.
That’s where Lisa & Mo steps in. There is a huge market for gluten-free products out there, but few does them well. Those gluten-free pasta and crackers? They are clearly a substitute, and an inadequate one at that, at three times the price of regular products.
When my friend Marilyn first raved to me about Lisa & Mo’s 100 percent gluten-free baked goods, I was dubious. I imagined something that tasted sorta close to the real thing, but still woefully, recognizably gluten-free. When did anything “something-free” taste decent?
Well, one bite of Lisa & Mo’s rich, moist avocado cupcake and soft, delightfully chewy black bean brownies, and I had to admit I was wrong: There is such a thing as a delicious gluten-free dessert. In fact, Lisa & Mo’s desserts were even better than many other regular gluten-full desserts out there.
So here I was. At Chef’s Center at California in Pasadena, the commercial kitchen Lisa & Mo shares with many other new start-up food businesses in Southern California.
I brought along my close friend Jordan since she’s a broadcast journalism major. She was designated the task of filming our interview.
When we arrived, we were greeted with hugs by Lisa, Molly (Mo) and Tony. Although it was only the second time I was meeting them, I warmed up to them immediately.
Molly actually had lunch ready for us too:
Fresh-made sandwiches, crudites, and juice. How sweet! I hadn’t been expecting them to provide lunch.
(Lisa on the far left, Tony in the center, Mo on the right)
In between bites and sips, we ended up spending about 3 hours talking. That meant 3 hours of re-listening to our interview and transcribing it! But I was too engrossed in our conversation to actually worry about that.
You can read about their story here, but I just wanted to record the behind-the-scenes of this interview. Here’s a video of it:
One of my favorite part about being a journalist is the interviews. I love, love, love talking to people, even if it’s about a subject I (thought) I have no interest in. There’s always new things to learn, and I do learn something new in every interview, not just about an issue but also about humans and the way the human psyche works.
The difference between interviews and just simply chatting with a stranger is that you can get right into the heart of a particular topic without circling about polite chit-chat. And yes, there’s a certain amount of authority that you enjoy as a journalist. What might be construed as “rude” and an “intrusion to privacy” is perfectly justifiable for a reporter to ask.
Oh, and extra bonus if the people you interview happen to be involved in baking wonderful desserts! In the middle of the interview, Tony brought Jordan and me a plate of Molten Chocolate cookies!
Yuummm…Intensely chocolaty. And yes, 100 percent gluten-free without the texture of cardboard.
We actually got a chance to see the baker at work. After my interview with Lisa and Molly, I slipped to the kitchen to watch Tony baking Lisa & Mo’s signature Almond Joy cookies:
Jordan caught it all on film of Tony rolling coconutty dough into sliced almonds and then placing them in line on a baking sheet.
Aaaah! I love these cookies!!! I wonder how the raw Almond Joy cookie dough taste like. I imagine it’ll be even better than cookie dough with gluten, because you don’t get the raw flour taste.
I’m not sure what kind of flour Lisa & Mo uses for their Almond Joy cookies…I think it’s coconut flour? Either way, the dough definitely has shredded coconut in it. It gives it such a lovely chewy texture.
We actually got to eat the cookies straight out of the oven!
Lisa & Mo was generous enough to pack four cookies for Jordan and me before we left. If you ever get to try Lisa & Mo, I highly recommend these Almond Joy cookies. They are a culinary revelation.
Actually, Lisa & Mo also ships nationwide now. In that case, I also recommend their avocado cupcakes with chocolate, cinnamon and nuts; their caramel fleur de sel black bean brownie bites; their ginger cookies; their chocolate beet cupcake with goat cheese…ack, just about anything they make is awesome.
And see, writing things like that for a journalistic publication will get me in trouble. But here on my blog? I don’t need to worry about sounding biased. Though hey, seriously, I’m just stating the honest facts.
Another great aspect about being a journalist is that you get access into areas otherwise not open to the public. For example, I got a really informative tour around the commercial kitchen at Chefs Center at California by the supervisor, Chef Jr. Maxwell.
I didn’t know exactly how commercial kitchens worked until that tour. Having a commercial kitchen is essential for young, floundering small businesses who don’t have the expenses or resources to secure a permanent kitchen and storefront.
It also helps because many states, especially California, have very, very stringent health rules and regulations. A commercial kitchen comes already equipped with all the professional cooking tools and equipment you need in a wide space that has been health and safety approved according to the state’s mandate. That means never having to pay an exorbitant fine or being boarded up for breaking any state health rules, which could seriously affect a small business like Lisa & Mo.
Tony also said that whenever they have technical difficulties or baking problems, the staff was right there on location to help.
But of course, the best thing about being a journalist is that you get to write. Even if it’s a small publication, it can be a big deal for the people featured in your article.
It’s always a wonderful thing to recognize somebody’s passion and hard work, and many times, I feel stifled for not being able to write with the excitement I wish to convey into my words.
That’s why I just can’t quit my blog.
So here’s the compromise I made for my blog. I’m not gonna stick to a schedule for posting, nor am I going to write for the sake of readership. I’m going to write about things I find interesting, and I’m going to write because I like to write, not because I like being read. I guess that’s the toughest thing for any writer, because the desire to be read is part of the territory.
But in the end, what is a blog anyway? It’s a platform for communication—my platform for communication, unshackled by editors’ preferences, word limits or a media corporation’s agenda. I get to determine why I blog, what I blog.
Since I gain no financial profits from my blog, I might as well reap personal gains. I might as well have fun with it. And that means my blog is also fluid. I’m going to play around with it, experiment on different forms of communicative tools, and learn from whatever mistakes I might make without letting them bum me out too much.
Question of the Day: Are you a blogger? What are your struggles with blogging? Ever considered quitting?