Thursday, July 2, 2009

Gushment Is Not Good Enough

Gushing is disgusting. In that respect it’s related to “spewing.” But the icky phenomenon to which I refer is sticky sweet.

I’m referring, of course, to “unsolicited” testimonials. You see them in non-fiction books where the writer is recalling the responses of former students exposed to her revelatory techniques.

“This changes everything!” they sometimes say, which is a fine thing to say – everyone does, from time to time, but it should not be presented as evidence of anything. It’s gushing, for pity’s sake, and for all the liquid biological connotations, it should be obvious that it’s involuntary, and not a considered response.

Advice to writers always includes things like, “Don’t tell the editor how much your sister likes your writing.” Duh. It’s a referral on 1) hand-picked dataverses, and 2) anecdotal evidence in general. We should pay attention.

We should not accept gushment as evidence.

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