giving thanks all year long

Now that we’re a comfortable distance from Thanksgiving, I think it’s a good idea to think about what we do throughout the year to tell others that we appreciate them and their work. My standing rule for myself is that for each time I go out of my way to offer constructive criticism, I have to do one act to demonstrate support and appreciation. So if I email a company to tell them they messed up in an ad campaign, I’ll also email a favorite blog to thank them for what they do. It helps keep me balanced. I don’t associate with any particular religious or spiritual tradition but I think it’s important to make sure I’m not putting more negative energy into the universe than positive.

Those who expose themselves to the public eye, whether by running a local business, giving an artistic performance, or writing a blog, will generally receive plenty of criticism for what they do. Lots of people are willing to take the time to write a letter to tell someone how much they suck, particularly if the person exposing themselves belongs to a marginalized group. Sady Doyle gives a little history of how this plays out in the feminist blogosphere in the post Why I Didn’t Delete Tiger Beatdown. She cites the recent harassment she has received as a result of her efforts with #Mooreandme, and also past incidents for which Kathy Sierra, Melissa McEwan, Amanda Marcotte, and Jessica Valenti were each intensely targeted. Not to mention what happened to Lena Chen.

I don’t have any illusions that my sporadic emails showing support and giving thanks are going to make the difference in whether people who do important work will continue to do that work in the face of all that negativity. But when I hear about the horrible treatment they receive on a daily basis, I can’t stand the thought of this happening without my voice doing its tiny part to counteract the onslaught. It might not be much, but it’s a teaspoon.


2 responses to “giving thanks all year long

  1. Education schools used to advocate (and may still advocate) the “sandwich” approach: say something positive before something critical, and then follow up with another positive thing.

  2. The debate over whether or not creative fiction writing can ever truly be taught may well never be resolved. However, after several decades of institutionalized creative writing pedagogy, it’s fairly safe to conclude that there are certainly ways to teach the craft if not the art of creative writing, and although the pedagogy of any art form can be a delicate undertaking, several methods for the teaching of fiction writing have emerged over time. By far the most common and traditional way of teaching creative writing is through the “workshop” class format – i.e., where a small class, led by an instructor whose role generally resembles less a traditional, directive “teacher” role and more that of a discussion facilitator, in which students take turns discussing one another’s creative work in a roundtable-style discussion – there are also other methods that can be integrated into the teaching of creative writing, whether in a workshop environment or not. Among the most popular of these is the use of writing exercises or invitations, which can be used in both a classroom/group or one-on-one setting. Exercises/invitations are particularly useful for beginner/intermediate-level writing students who may not yet have a solid grasp of one or more of the basic foundations of creative fiction writing. In here, we will examine several such writing exercises, focusing on those related to characterization, which is frequently the most challenging to beginning creative writers.

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