Last night at small group, we're sitting around eating pizza discussing our thoughts on life, the universe, and everything. And David, a man with penetrating laser eyes who could best be described as "earnest" says to me, "I don't think you actually like anything."
I love earnest people. (Really, I do.) David has a point. When discussing books or TV or pop culture, there's a whole lot more that I don't like than what I like. I'm not very fun to discuss pop culture with because I'll most likely tell you what's wrong with it.
My critical/analytical spirit is the essence of my editor being and what I get paid to do, for that matter. The world surely needs us editors. I read a quote last night by Steven King (who I now realize is clearly brilliant): "To write is human, to edit is divine."
Being critical is of value, but how to be critical without seeming like an uptight, bunned, crotchety stick-in-the-mud who just smelled something nasty?
Mike, who is as, if not more, critical than I am, dodges this by simply not reading or watching what he knows he won't like. He's very habitual in his media ingestion. He treats books like he treats food. He finds one good restaurant where he likes one good dish and perpetually orders it.
But I treat my books like I do my food: I want to try everything and go everywhere and even if it turns out to be a nasty Indian dish that smells like hell and gives you indigestion. As Mike describes it, I'm adventurous but not omnivorous. I want to try it all, but I probably won't like most.
So I haven't figured this out yet. Do I keep my mouth shut? Do I seem more sunshiny? Surely not. But if any of you out there know how to be critical without being curmudgeony, let me know. Until then, you probably don't want to invite me to the season finale of Lost or your book club of The Secret Life of Bees.
P.S. This post is not a covert attempt at compliments, so please don't feel the need to comment, "Oh Amber, you're so nice. You're so sunshiny. You're so pretty."
P.P.S. Actually, feel free to say that last one.