Our responsibility as writers.

I’ve been thinking a lot the last few days about my responsibility as a writer. Who am I responsible too?  What am I responsible for? What is my role as a writer?

Recently, I had something happen that really made me think about writers and what they write. I won’t get into the incident right now, but suffice it to say, it comes down to one core issue: do you, as a writer, want to have the broadest commercial appeal, or do you include something that may or may not alienate some of your audience?

To be honest, I hadn’t ever really thought about it. I wrote what I wrote and if someone didn’t like part of it, oh well. But suddenly, I have readers to think about. I have to worry about being true to myself, to being true to my readers, even to being true to life, as opposed to censoring what I might write about because some people might find it inappropriate to certain audiences.

So what do you do? I know the path I plan to take from here on out. I write for teenagers. I write about things that they might being going through, things they are suffering with. Teens deal with drinking, sex, drugs, death, abandonment, bullying, illness, and abuse. Think about it; I’m sure that as a teen you dealt with at least some if not all of those issues. Should I not write about them, just because it might offend some people?

I choose to write, to be true to life and to my readers. Honestly, I doubt I’ll ever include a love scene in one of my YA novels. But that doesn’t mean that the topic won’t come up. And as far as my plan for the future goes, that is the ONLY thing I might not include in a novel (notice I said MIGHT). If this approach leads to my being criticized, then that’s too bad. I’m tough. I can take it. To have a sterilized book, one that’s all sunshine and rainbows, to me seems a much more awful prospect.

Make sure you know where you stand on this issue BEFORE it ever becomes an issue.

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3 thoughts on “Our responsibility as writers.

  1. Amy-Thanks for posting this. I struggled with this topic while I was writing my latest… In the end I chose to stick with what was realistic–gritty as it may be. Who knows, maybe it will never be published because of it.

    My teenage years were filled with all sorts of struggles and I wanted to reach out to teens sorting through those same issues–and to show there are diamonds among the rocks.

    Best wishes to you in being able to express the type of message you want to send out to this world.

  2. Have you recently read a “sterilized book” that bugged you?

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to sell as many books as possible, it’s a profession, but as soon as you start censoring ideas that will improve the story because of an anticipated audience reaction, you are doing your book great disservice.

    YA novels like “Hunger Games” and that ilk aren’t that censored and have huge popularity, luckily, so it seems a balance can be struck.

  3. Interesting topic. Personally, I think a writer should be free to write whatever they’re inspired to, so long as we are also willing to accept the criticism that our words may attract.

    Its basically a case of freedom of speech, being balanced out with personal responsibility.

    I try to write realistic worlds (which is sometimes difficult as I write in the fantasy genre), so I try to keep the harsher depicitions of life within my stories.

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