A Kind, Discouraging Word (posted contrarily by Jim Jennings)

We are often stupid.

I use the first person plural to spread the fault and thereby take the edge off the self-deprecation. You and I are both occasionally stupid, despite our characteristic sparkling wit and striking good looks. Sporadic flashes of stupidity probably help nurture our brains, the way a lab rat learns from encountering a dead end in a maze.

I do not write as well as I should. The words do not bite as crisply as they should; they too seldom inspire you to continue reading. Let’s say from right here, for example.

The remedy, if there is one, is not encouragement. Please do not encourage me. No, I crave kind and thoughtful discouragement. Point out the crap prose; ridicule me if you must (or for your amusement) and warn me to knock it off. Whatever you do, do not encourage me. Would you encourage a bad driver to drive badly? An alcoholic to have another drink? A Ted Cruz acolyte to go the poll?

Have you ever enrolled in one of those nicey-poo writing classes in which every uttered or scribbled word is warmly praised? If so, do you remember how grubby the polite condescension made you feel?

My argument in brief is that criticism may be a form of sincere respect. To offer thoughtful criticism is to imply the compliment of high expectations: “Dude, you can do better than that…”

So, go ahead—kick me. Please…

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