New First-Year Writing faculty member Shahnaz Habib has an essay in the latest Agni, “A Letter to My Daughter about Palindromes.” To accompany this, she’s written a blog post about the “tyranny of niceness,” the reality of suffering—made clear to her through the glum wisdom of Ayurvedic doctors—and her own coming to terms with her life as a writer.
When I visit Ayurvedic doctors, I know I will not hear polite nothings. When the person you are talking to does not feel obliged to be likable, your interaction with them can become more honest, more intimate. And so in my own writing, I try to resist the temptation to be likable. I am curious about the relationship that opens up between a writer and a reader when the writer’s goal is not niceness, likability, happiness.
Welcome Shahnaz to the program, and go read.