8 Postcards of Generally Positive Gratitude

Lately, there seems to be a lot of fussing about how some entertainer/artist/creative person didn’t give everybody exactly what they wanted 100% of the time.

Sigh.

There’s a thing where people seem to think, well, if you put yourself (or your work) in the public eye, you should be prepared never to make a mistake or do anything that’s less than pure genius ever again. And that’s a bit much. It’s not really fair, you know?

I’m not saying we don’t all have a right to discuss people’s missteps and examine what we could all learn from them, or that we shouldn’t criticize stuff we don’t like. We do, and we should, and I will — OH YES, MATT DAMON’S PONYTAIL, I WILL — but it sure would be nice if we could also remember that all these things we pick apart are made by real people. It peeves me when I see posts that start, “he should have…” or “why doesn’t she…?” from people with opinions about stuff they’ve NEVER EVEN TRIED TO DO THEMSELVES.

So, in that spirit, I present a few postcards that might be used in situations in which someone doesn’t deliver the [album / book / meal / comedy routine / etc.] of our dreams, but in which we can still be human beings about it.

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gratitudecards.002 gratitudecards.003 gratitudecards.004 gratitudecards.005 gratitudecards.006 gratitudecards.007

Also, this seems like a good time to remind ourselves: If we don’t end up liking Go Set a Watchman, it’s OK. But it seems like there are a lot of posts popping up saying that Harper Lee has “killed To Kill a Mockingbird” by publishing a book in which some of the characters we were used to are different/worse. (And yeah, the details are kind of fuzzy about how all that happened, aren’t they? But there it is.) Maybe let’s remember that (a) Atticus Finch is not a real person, he’s a made-up character — a character who got written one way and then another — and (b) this “book” we’re holding was a draft. A draft that was initially set aside in favor of a different draft. As the great Anne Lamott told us way back when, drafts are important. Drafts are how we get where we’re going. Ain’t nobody gonna produce perfect drafts every time.

And really, to have access to multiple drafts or versions of someone’s work is a gift for those of us who enjoy studying the creative process. To be able to compare the iterations of a book (or a stand-up act or a painting or a song) is to learn something about how stuff gets made. Maybe we’ll look at it and understand why Lee’s editor told her to put it in a drawer and start over. Or maybe we’ll get to see how Lee stumbled her her way toward the true voices of her characters. Maybe we’ll love it. Maybe not. But hey, she’s written at least one fabulous novel and one maybe-or-maybe-not fabulous one, and in my life I will write a total of zero novels. So:

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28 comments

  1. Love this and personally needed this wake-up after writing a negative book review this weekend and then feeling guilty about it. Thanks for the reality check!

  2. Thank you for this thought provoking, guilt inducing post! 🙂 People can be awfully cruel about someone’s lifework. I wonder where the line is between an honest critique and downright cruelty. Maybe an honest critique is actually solicited by the maker/author/artist of the piece?

  3. Thanks to Ann and Julie for putting this on their FB feed. Funny – and TRUE! And (unrelated) I love the name of your blog. It reminds me of the “miss you already” line my husband and I use that we got from a B movie when the wife was just going to the bathroom.

    I got a 2-star review that I agreed with so not all critiques are bad. It also helped me to decide that my memoir which has been out for a year and a half needs to be abridged. A sort of public first draft in the end (blush). But it’s the nasty reviews I’ve seen on other peoples books that I’m thinking – really. What’s the point? Gratuitous cruelty and uninstructive opinions are such a winning combination.

  4. Just right, as always. And when I see someone doing something I’m too damn lazy to do myself, I’m all hands in the air huzzah to you!!! At least you’re doing something which is more than my lazy ass is over here. xo

  5. liked this a lot, you cover serious issues with great humour, the notes summarize perfectly! I feel that when it has to be negative, reviewing in general should be more about supportive advice on how whatever could have been improved on – that is, IF the artist is open to that type of critique. Do you agree or do you favour the “artists’ creations are theirs and not to be touched” position?

  6. You are a 44D! aka a bra full of goodness and sugar.
    Love your postcards and I totally believe in supporting all persons, especially children, in whatever activity they are interested in. Sometimes the artist or writer themselves dislikes the result of their work but they don’t stop the works and surely will not stop if only one person thanks them or recognizes a Hail Mary effort.

  7. I feel I should send myself that artist postcard for pretty much every post I write / draw 😉 It can be hard at times, but, luckily there are people out there that are actually grateful and appreciative!

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