Hah! I start this off with a blatant misdirection because as a writer, I feel I have only one obligation. That obligation is to tell a story that means something, either to myself, or to those I want to read it.
Since no one is obligated to read my writings, I feel the same lack of obligation to make any adjustments to my story for any particular person.
A lot of people claim that if you want to publish your writings, you should pay for proofreading, cover creation, line-editing, and sometimes even more editing, but first I ask why?
And then I say, No.
Are artists obligated to have someone edit their art, adding splashes of color where maybe it needs a little something extra, or throwing on another daub of paint here or there? I don’t think so.
I’ll be honest here. I’m not that good with metaphor. That’s why I make it a point to avoid any kind of deliberate attempt at metaphors when I write.
But I can’t think of that many instances where people are sitting around telling an artist that if they don’t have the help of others, then they’re not doing their best work.
I can’t imagine writing as an interactive process, either with readers or editors. That’s not why or how I write. It really is all about me, until I’ve crafted something I want to share and then I personally feel a small obligation to make the story I wrote come across as cleanly and crisply as I imagined it in my head. So I reread, and I edit myself, but no one knows what I intended better than me, so having someone else do this stuff for me is not part of my process. I don’t want people telling me I’m not clear here or I need more description there. The story is what it is. The reader isn’t obligated to like it. The reader isn’t even obligated to read it.
Seriously, I never finish reading a story I don’t like, because I don’t have enough time in the day as it is.
When I get done with a story, I know it’s right for me when I find myself wanting to reread it, and when I do reread, I don’t find anything I don’t like. Boring parts? Don’t need to be there. Clanky sentences? Rewrote. Bad plotting? Trash it. The thing is, I’m telling a story. If it sucks, I know it. If it doesn’t, then maybe there’s someone out there who will enjoy it as much as I do.
I reread the stuff I really like. I can reread a good story within a day of my first read. And if I’m not finding myself tempted to reread my own stuff? I haven’t written a good story. Plain as that.
That’s my obligation as a writer. Admit when I haven’t written some
thing worth rereading. For the rest, edit myself, proof myself, and take full ownership for everything in my story as my art.