The Quality Commitment
I came across a remark from Jimmy Page the other day in the June 12 Rolling Stone that reminded me about the importance of commitment.
In an interview with David Fricke, Page said, “The main thing is quality… The important thing is to commit to playing. You have to put a lot in to get a lot out.”
As a rock critic (see Bio), I could take or leave Led Zeppelin, although I still consider their “When the Levee Breaks” one of the great rock ‘n’ roll songs of all time.
But Page’s comment echoes something I heard recently from a friend who turned her back on the financial world to become an artist. While bemoaning the decline of morals and standards in our culture, she remarked that “quality will always stand out.”
These remarks are especially helpful right now. As a freelance writer, I write for a variety of media – internet, special interest magazines and newspapers.
I enjoy all kinds of writing, but journalism is where I got my start and where I have the most freedom. But newspapers are losing money and readers at a frightening rate. The Atlanta paper recently asked for 54 people to take buyouts, and got 73 takers.
At the moment, that seems to mean more work for me. But sometimes I wonder if I’m fighting a rear-guard action: I’m being paid piecemeal for stories that I used to do as a full-time writer with a salary and benefits.
Which makes me wonder if I’m on the right track. And if I’m not, what is the right track? The smart money seems to be on the internet, but where? Is there a market for what I do? For that matter, how would I characterize what I do?
Answer: I tell stories, often the story behind the story. I look for qualities like connection and change, for the positive and upbeat. I look for the magic in everyday life.
So…newspapers? Magazines? The internet? I don’t know where this adventure is taking me.
But I do know this: my commitment, like Jimmy Page’s, is to do the best I can, and hope that readers leave feeling better than they did when they got here.
That doesn’t necessarily mean this adventure will have a happy ending. But I’m beginning to understand that I’m not in the results business. All I can do is commit and have the satisfaction of knowing I did my best. Anything less would be cheating myself.