My Obligation as a Writer

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 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’m a rereader of anything 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 something good. For the rest, edit myself, proof myself, and take full ownership for everything in my story as my art.

Bummer.

Okay, I’m not usually one for strong language but it’s come to my attention that I totally effed up a few of my websites. Back when I thought websites were my ticket out of a JOB, I decided I should go all static on them, which was and still is a great thing. But no, it’s not a great thing because now I’m not pursuing a web empire with quite so much fervor and I only want to do updates when I have something I want to say, quickly. And static does not lend itself to quick little pithy updates.

Only problem is that with my newfound lack of attention to my websites, static is about the safest way to keep the sites. Any other software just makes them vulnerable to un-updated packages that will end up getting my sites hacked.

Bummer.