The Responsibility of Writers – Finding an old assessment journal

While going through my digital files I came across a folder from 2016 when I was attempting my third (maybe fourth) degree. This one was Writing, Editing and Publishing. Something I gave up after the first semester because I was sick of being given low grades because the lecturer disagreed with my views on morality and ethics. Subjective subjects can be so… Subjective.

One thing I did like about that course work was the journal we were required to keep as proof we were watching and paying attention to the lectures. I used my journal regularly for the duration of this particular unit and reading back on it, I don’t hate everything I wrote. Some of it was reflective, some was journalistic for personal reasons, and some of it had assessment material scattered through as off the cuff ideas while tangentially writing.

An entry from 2/3/2016 was one of my favourites. It discusses the ethics of writing and the responsibilities we as writers have to our audiences. I’ve posted an excerpt of my ponderings below:

“Over the years my experience as a writer has been very mixed. I was published in a fiction anthology when I was about 13-15 years old. I’ve dabbled in fiction, blogging, screen writing, poetry and erotica. I’m currently enjoying writing horror (if you’d ever like creative ways to kill a character, send me a message!) I recently wrote a short story in French for my little God-daughter (despite Spanish being my second language, not French).

I use to have quite a large following on Facebook as no status was written as an ordinary update. I would try and engage my friends and create a story, set a scene for them to step in to. These days I don’t post much and I’ve been living in reality more than on social media. With that however, came the responsibility to be engaging, charismatic and create a discussion or meaningful dialogue. I don’t see the point in posting for chitchat or for postings sake. Leave that to private messages, letters, tea and biscuits. If, as a writer, you have a platform, use it wisely. To me that includes weaving realms of fiction, transporting readers to another universe in which romance is breathtaking, horror is terrifying, unicorns exists, and Terry Pratchett is sitting alongside Death and keeping him entertained. As writers, we have a responsibility to be brave and create new worlds. We have a responsibility to remain ethical and honest in our methods. We should be reliable and complete deadlines when we say we will (I’m looking at you, GRRM).

As an avid reader I expect to be engaged. I expect to FEEL what I’ve read, be it sadness or elation, hope or dismay. I expect to be provoked in to thought and action and I think that as writers we owe that delivery to readers.

I’ve never really thought about why I want to be a writer. I’ve always had a passion for languages and the written word; Ink upon a page, the smell of book on a shelf, the feel of a page in hand. I think I want to be part of the magic that I get to experience every time I open a book. I want to give someone the same deep sense of loss I get from closing the final page on a book that completely carried me away. Neil Gaiman said “The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before.” and I think I’d like to contribute to that brightness.

The role that the writer plays, for me, is so important. A writer has power to change opinions. In a growing landscape of media platforms the internet provides, writers are able to reach wider audiences like never before. As I mentioned above, writers have a responsibility to use those platforms wisely. It is their job to disseminate their truth, their stories, and to engage with the readers in an effective, emotive, informative way.”

While it’s clear this post was written years ago (as told by my social media usage) I still believe in the words I wrote. As writers we have a responsibility to be engaging and to remain truthful to our audiences. That truthfulness does not need to be facts (unless you are a news conglomerate), it needs to be our truth; The world as we see it and the world as we create it. It’s important for writers to deliver when they promise they will, and to follow through on topics or stories they promise (something I’ve been a bit rubbish at following through on, much to my dismay). 

My hope is that I do give useful advice based on the way I see and interact with the world, and I hope that I engage you and entertain you, dear reader. I pray that I manage, in some small way, to contribute to the brightness of the world when I post something. Even if it only connects with one person, my wish is fulfilled.

Stay silly xx

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