The task for Day Two of Blogging 101 is to consider updating the title and tagline of my blog. Changes aren’t required, but after reviewing the suggestions offered in my “course”, I’ve decided an update was in order.
The phrase diligent dilettante is an intentional oxymoron, as a dilettante by definition is someone with a superficial interest in an art or profession. Dilettante is clearly a pejorative term — while an artist or professional commits to their craft, a dilettante makes no real sacrifices, only puts in enough effort to remain on the fringes of their world of interest. It’s a word — call it a label — that could easily be applied to me, sitting alone on my lunch break from my day job and updating this blog on my iPad.
I don’t pretend to be a professional writer, although that’s my aspiration. And I may never get there. If I had started this blog solely to realize my ambition, I would have abandoned it long ago out of frustration. What I’ve come to realize over the past few years is that writing is a joyous compulsion, an effort I could only stop by lying to myself. It is, for lack of a better term, more fun than anything else that I do.
A few years ago I stumbled across this quote from George Plimpton, one of the more notable “participatory journalists” of his time. Plimpton would dabble in several professions (most times performing very poorly, especially when it came to athletics), then write about his experience. I don’t know the context for this quote, but I want to believe he was responding to criticism of his amateur exploits:
There are people who would perhaps call me a dilettante, because it looks as though I’m having too much fun. I have never been convinced there’s anything inherently wrong in having fun.
To me, Plimpton was not a dilettante. He was an explorer, a man curious about his world and eager to share his discoveries. And that is the spirit in which I choose to write.
So thank you, George, for showing us the value of having serious fun — and providing the inspiration for my re-branded blog.