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emmy [AT] curious-notions {dot} net
August 2022
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Blunt truths more mischief than nice falsehoods do

I wake Bear up in the morning. The alarm goes off, I get up, he sleeps until I come back and kick him out of bed. About half the time I have to come back a few times before Bear is actually out of bed. He’s heavy. It takes multiple kicks. This morning I was coming back for round two. I rounded the corner and Bear was frozen on the bed with one leg extended and his eyes popped wide open and his tongue stuck out at me. I was so startled I almost fell over. He was really pleased with himself.

There’s this admonition going around authors to reviewers, especially book reviewers who are trying to get published to “be nice” (i.e. don’t give reviews that fawning all over a book). I feel like I’ve blogged about this before. I know I blogged about the golden rule, but I hate “be nice”.

In our household, we sometimes chide each other about being mean or not being very “nice”, but it’s never very serious. What is dead serious in our house is respect, even if we often don’t use the word. You don’t put someone down or make them feel stupid or belittle their experiences. You listen when they are talking, and if you can’t, you say so with the understanding that they have the right to speak. We often don’t agree, Bear and I. We fight. Gosh we fight sometimes. The only times we have problems though are when one of us isn’t respectful. Usually it doesn’t get that far, because the person in pain, the person who would lash out at the other, is already being respected by the other. So their pain or their upset or whatever is causing an issue is given voice. Even if it doesn’t make sense, even if it is just an opinion, especially if it has basis in something very very real, opinions are allowed to be spoken, are encouraged.

I think it’s sad that it’s so common to admonish people to “be nice” over giving people respect. Respect for their opinions, respect for their experiences and goals and pains and time and effort. When it comes to reviewing, when the whole point is to spend you time and energy dissecting why you liked or didn’t like something so that others can benefit from your experiences, where does anyone get off telling someone to “be nice”?

I can’t say I’m surprised though.

(Brain, title is a quote from Alexander Pope)