Question: Do we, as authors, have a responsibility to our readers to not disappoint them? What if we added the caveat of not hurting them “too badly”?
No. I am entirely serious. What do you, as authors, think?
Someone posted this sentiment in one of my online writing groups recently. I do not remember which one, nor would I name it if I did. Nor do I even remember the frame of the conversation at the time.
But let me tell you how I felt when I saw those words. Frankly, I was taken aback. I kept my opinions to myself to avoid starting any sort of drama or nonsense. Let me share them with you here; that is why I have this blog, right?
If you could not already tell, I absolutely disagree with the idea that I have a responsibility to not disappoint my readers. I immediately disagreed, but allowed myself 48 hours to reassess my feelings.
I don’t know about other writers, but I write adult-themed books. Even if the action in my books never goes past second base, I am not writing young adult fiction.
Adults. Grown up humans. Decidedly not children. I expect adults to react to situations, including disappointment, as adults. It is not my responsibility to shield adults from something as mundane as disappointment. Frankly, it isn’t my responsibility to shield children from disappointment.
There is also the fact that I am writing for myself. Perhaps one day, I will consider trying to publish, but that just isn’t a goal right now. Here’s a tiny secret though: even if I do one day publish something, I’ll still be writing for myself. No one else.
Does this mean I don’t want readers to like my story? No. Are you telling me that people will only like what I write if I write for them and not myself? Do you think the greats worried about disappointing their audience? You know they didn’t. It seems to me that readers are smart enough to know an authentic voice from that of someone targeting an audience. And if I write to avoid disappointing everyone, I will lose my authenticity.
Want to know what I consider my responsibility to any potential future writers? Compelling characters and stories. Nothing more.