In Defense of Cheery Optimism // Positively Speaking // Mark Wilson

A few days ago, I had the opportunity to attend a writing seminar, conducted by a New York Times best-selling author.
I scribbled furious notes, as she revealed the deep secrets of excellent writing. She unearthed many treasures during her 90 minute lecture.
“Let me tell you the greatest obstacle to good writing.” she declared.
I sat upright, pen poised, ready to capture the next phrase that fell from her lips.
“Cheery optimism is the greatest obstacle to good writing. When you try to put a positive face on your situations, it just ruins your writing!”
Uh oh! I deflated quicker than an unknotted party balloon.
“What? Cheery optimism is the greatest obstacle to good writing?? That means I’m in big trouble! I’ve always tried to make my writing cheery and optimistic!
Even the title of this column, “Positively Speaking”, denotes cheery optimism.
People experience so much hardship and difficulty, that I’d sure hate to pile up more with negative writing. It seems like a positive, encouraging word for the soul is much better.
Yet, I want to hone my writing gift. We all should strive for growth and improvement.
Hmmmm — How do we deal with this dilemma?
Do I, in the name of writing excellence, adjust my style? Maybe we could change the column to “Negatively Speaking”, “Sourly Speaking”, or “On the Gloomy Side”.
Nah. That just doesn’t fit me at all. I have to be true to my optimistic self — even if it lowers the writing standard.
I believe in God.
I believe everything works together for good.
I believe in faith, hope and love
— and that automatically makes me an optimist.
Gloomy pessimism might make better writing — but not better living!
As for me, I think I’ll remain a cheerful optimist — and my family will thank me for it.

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