Sloppy Generalizations The award-winning writer, George Saunders, speaks of all writing being about “specifics.” During my Wednesday night writing group, we found ourselves discussing the generic, ordinary description, as opposed to one that’s detailed, but targeted to character, plot, setting, etc. I think of how quickly we flip to generalizations in the rhetoric of the dreadful current events, of the presidential and other political campaigns in progress now, or in regress, if that’s the opposite. I’m afraid I’m as guilty as anyone, reverting to the general, though I’d rather avoid knee-jerk reactions. I’m convinced that writing helps our sloppy thinking, so that we remember that characters and events/experiences are nuanced, elaborate, conflicting. I want to be more open to expectation of interactions that are more empathic and open. In my circle, especially with family, where I expect party-line utterance, thinking I know the views, I don’t engage. I keep interaction short and off-substance or make jokes. I need to challenge my stereotypes, my bete-noirs. And possibly, although this scares me to death because I hate conflict, maybe I need to commit to more open conversation. It might lead to more complexity and more real communication. The award-winning writer, George Saunders, speaks of all writing being about “specifics.” During my Wednesday night writing group, we found ourselves discussing the generic, ordinary description, as opposed to one that’s detailed, but targeted to character, plot, setting, etc. I think of how quickly we flip to generalizations in the rhetoric of the dreadful current events, of the presidential and other political campaigns in progress now, or in regress, if that’s the opposite. I’m afraid I’m as guilty as anyone, reverting to the general, though I’d rather avoid knee-jerk reactions. I’m convinced that writing helps our sloppy thinking, so that we remember that characters and events/experiences are nuanced, elaborate, conflicting. I want to be more open to expectation of interactions that are more empathic and open. In my circle, especially with family, where I expect party-line utterance, thinking I know the views, I don’t engage. I keep interaction short and off-substance or make jokes. I need to challenge my stereotypes, my bete-noirs. And possibly, although this scares me to death because I hate conflict, maybe I need to commit to more open conversation. It might lead to more complexity and more real communication.

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About Sally Hobart Alexander

Blinded at the age of twenty-six, I left California and elementary school teaching for life in Pittsburgh, Pa. There, I met my husband, got a Masters' degree in social work, had two kids, now 35 and 32, and became a writer. Surprisingly, the writing career led me full-circle to teaching, and I teach in Chatham University's M.F.A. program and lead two writing critique groups. Always, since the age of 26, I have traveled, not in the stereotypic darkness attributed to blindness, but a mist. My blog then, "traveling through the mist" will deal with issues in my culturally different life as a blind writer, teacher, speaker, and human being.
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