Not So Nice After All

People—many people—have said to me, “Why don’t you write something nice?” What they mean, I think, is that my plays and stories tend to be a little, um, dark.  I wish I could.  People like comedy, like to laugh.  And in truth, even at my darkest, one of my characters or another will say something that makes people smile.  And the last time I tried to write what I thought was a simple family comedy (“Barzini To The Rescue”), it turned out to have a very sad and gritty underpinning.  Something, I guess, about zebras and stripes, or leopards and spots. I’m smiling while I’m writing this, if that makes a difference.

And is literature, like life, just really all about being nice? Is "Cry, Heart, But Never Break" a nice children's picture book, and, if it is, perhaps it is because it is weighted with an immense sadness.

Here are a couple of interesting essays about “niceness”—and, as it turns out, its pitfalls when it comes to a life, and creativity.

A book chronicling a cultural history of "American Niceness."

A New Yorker article about the above book.

A Buzzfeed article about women and "likeability" in publishing.

A Lithub article expanding on this essay.

A School of Life book on the art of being nice.

A Discover Magazine article on "The Neuroscience of Niceness"