Hat on Top, Coat Below


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June 18, 2002

Today’s June Journal SMACKdown challenge is: “Write a review of your own online journal from a critic’s point of view (as if you were writing for one of those critique mailing lists or Web sites”. Being a new kid on the scene, I’m not very familiar with journal critique lists and sites, but I do know about self-evaluation. I’ve mostly had to rate myself in the workplace, and it’s never easy. I remember a horrible discussion with my then-boss about my self-evaluation one year. I rated myself high on being flexible (I was, after all, spending three days away from home each week after one of many reorganizations left me, in Michigan, reporting to him, in Chicago, where he needed to see me to know I was working or something); he rated me low, because I had questioned the need for the changes. Well, yeah, I did. The form didn’t say “cheerful”, it said “flexible”, and I didn’t refuse to change, I just refused to be immediately thrilled about it. We argued about it, and I ended up changing my evaluation to be more in agreement with his evaluation (evidently this would prove we were “on the same page” and “working as team”) and stewed about it for way too long afterward. So reviewing myself is not something I think of fondly. Maybe this will be different.

The one OLJ review site I do know about, because one of my regular reads linked to it when she was reviewed, is The Real Diary Critic, so I’m going to use that format for my self-review, trying to imagine I am that reviewer, rather than someone just like me, critiquing my diary.


Layout, etc: 1
No bonus for originality, as she started with a standard Diary-X template. However, she chose a clean, uncluttered design and has made some alterations to the basic layout that improve it, like adding links at the top of the entries and widening the main text column so there’s less scrolling needed to read an entry. She also chose a simple color scheme, black text on white with purple accents, which shows good judgment. The layout is easy to read and easy to navigate, but doesn’t have any real originality. She adds a personal touch with photos, but could be nicer to her readers in how she uses them. She puts pictures in her entries, rather than linking to them so the reader can choose to look or not, and doesn’t use alt tags for readers who have images turned off. Her Family Photos and Quilt Gallery sections don’t use thumbnails, either, which means slow loading over a modem connection. Still, it’s nice that she has provided a fair amount of background information and illustrations, so you can know more about her as a person.

Annoying writing habits: 1
She mentions going to college, so I expect to her write at a high level, and she doesn’t. She writes way too many run on sentences and overuses dashes and parenthetical asides. Sometimes, she goes too far in the other direction and writes sentence fragments. She also does entries based on lists, which I don’t care for. To her credit, she does keep typos and misspellings to a minimum.

Unique: 0
If she has any personal life issues that would qualify as interesting reading, she’s not writing about them. She’s married and older and lives in the suburbs and has a tech job and quilts. There’s nothing special there.

Quotes from the diary: 0
Still, today’s drive went better than a lot of other mornings. Last week, a fellow commuter gave me the finger. I think that was the first time that’s happened; it’s the first time I’ve noticed or remembered it, at any rate. The strange thing was that the guy gesturing was in front of me. I merged in behind him, and he slammed on his brakes and flipped me the bird. It surprised me.
Even an event bordering on road rage lacks interest when presented in such a manner.

But then, on the first trip of the season, I put on the boots I dearly love because they are purple and used to be shiny (and because the brand name is highlighted with silvery rainbow colors when the light hits them right) and ski with my toes jammed up against the front of the boot, and then my big toes hurt when I touch the nail and dark bruises appear under the nails near their bases and it gets worse from there. As the nails grow out, they have a deep horizontal ridge, and start showing the aforementioned yellow, thick, and separated from the nail bed behavior. One year, I tried just buffing down the ridge, but that led to the end ripping off entirely, which hurt, so this year, I lifted the icky part up and clipped it as close as I could and buffed the ragged edge and covered up the depression I’d created with nail repair stuff for a few days.
Out of control sentences about things I don’t care about and things I don’t want to hear about.

Would I go back for another read?: 1
Maybe. There’s no drama in this one, but it is a non-annoying, quiet read. I hope as she gets more practice keeping an online journal, she’ll get better at it and learn to write more engaging entries. Right now, she seems to keep readers at a distance, just recounting events and not sharing much of her emotions. If I knew her from some other context and wanted to see what she was up to, I’d definitely check back. If I were a quilter, I’d likely come back, too. I don’t and I’m not, so I won’t be rushing back. I will probably check back in a few months to see how this one has progressed.

Rating out of 10: 3


So, 3 out of 10; that’s pretty poor. I never got grades that low in school or reviews that bad at work. Of course, in both those arenas, I was a lot surer of myself than I am here in the online journal world. On the plus side, I’ve still got a lot of room to improve! It would be boring if I were perfect from the start. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

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