|Flickr Credit: Hartwig HKD|
As I reflect on her class, I remember something she once said—something I don’t quite agree with anymore. When describing the intent of “Publishing Parties,” where students were required to read a polished peace to the entire class, she said that if you are good at writing and have something to say, then it is your responsibility to share it.
(And that’s not a direct quote, but it was more or less what she meant.)
Sharing your writing is a responsibility. Not like when you beg for a puppy and your parents say, “He’ll be YOUR responsibility. YOU have to feed him. YOU have to pick up the poop.” More like the social and moral duties that mandate you call 9-1-1 when you see an accident, or rescue babies that find themselves sleeping on train tracks.
I suppose it’s among those “First Amendment” thoughts, that you should not only be able to have an opinion, but there is an urgent need for you to share it.
I write stuff. I make no claims that I write well, or that I am published, or anything more than what is true: I write stuff. Sometimes I share my opinions, like I’m doing right now. I work on stories, I write in a diary, I put my thoughts into words. I don’t do this stuff because I have to, though—blogging and writing are almost exclusively activities of pleasure.
I’m not out to change the world with this blog.
Somehow my teacher’s point has stayed with me. If you have the guts to write something, then it’s your duty to publish it. You have a voice that needs to be heard.
I wrote my inactive WIP because I didn’t want to go to college. It was an emotional story. I didn’t develop the bad guys, most of the characters are still flat, and the plot makes me dizzy to think about fixing. At this instant, it would be better off deleted than published. I feel no responsibility to share that work. It’s mine. And even though I may trade works with CP’s and continue to work on it, I don’t want to publish it.
In fact, from where I stand now, it’s hard to imagine ever wanting to publish any fictional works I’ve written.
Part of it is simply the workload—when you get published (traditionally, anyway), you’re expected to repeat the process and produce another product. You have to see about people reading your book, you have to endure the criticism and be grateful for the praise, and all the other little author things that keep you afloat. A lot of people don’t mind, but I do. I’m not interested in any of that.
The other part is just that I don’t see a lot of value in being published. There are only seven stories, every human is a remix of the same four nucleic acids, everything is the same. While I might enjoy reading books and getting a peek into other people’s lives, I’m not interested in reciprocating. Even if I had something to share, why would I want to?
Personal preference doesn’t really factor into “social duty,” whether it is real or imagined in this case, but here I am, personal preferencing. I wouldn’t charge someone with a “duty” I’m not willing to fulfill myself, which means in my case, I don’t think anyone should have a responsibility to publish what they’ve written.
It is my pleasure to blog. It is my pleasure to occasionally share some of my projects. But it’s not my pleasure to be forced to do those things. Writing is my choice, not my responsibility. I’d like it to stay that way.