This morning I was reading through a short story that a friend had written, making comments, and suggestions on an early draft of a tale she'd written, when, at once particularly bleak, poignant and ultimately sad moment, I made the comment:
Then I paused and looked at it. In the particular line, the writer was describing a terribly sad and devastating moment in a person's life. And there I was writing "Nice!" It made me wonder if someone else were to see this would they think that I was thrilled at the concept of this terrible turn of events?
I reflected back on how often that sort of thing happens between writers and writers and editors. The writer makes an intensely moving statement that captures the proper sense of sadness and loss, and the editor or other writer says: "Wonderful!" or "Nice!" or "Great!" If I go back through my own work that had been commented on by friends and editors, I wonder how often I'd see that sort of thing. Of course, not once did I believe that the person writing a positive comment on a particularly terrifying or ultimately sad moment was commenting on the moment itself, but instead on how that moment was nicely portrayed by the writing.
It's a good thing we writers understand what is meant by those comments, otherwise we'd have a really skewed view of those friends.