A Writer’s Obligation

I got an email yesterday from the author of one of the few blogs I follow, a blog that has been influential in my life, saying that she was shifting things in her life and had deleted the entire contents of her blog, to start fresh.

There’s that tricky line again when it comes to being a writer, and being a writer with readers. What is your obligation to them? What is your responsibility? I think you definitely need to do you, and if something isn’t working then change it. If deleting all your past content – or quitting your job, or moving – is the way you need to cut ties and start new, then that’s what you have to do. But at what point do your actions affect others? If you quit your job, what kind of void are you leaving, and who will pick up the slack? If you move, you’re saying to your friends, “I’ve just changed the nature of our friendship without your input.” If you delete your content, you’ve now taken away the entire foundation of your platform, and thousands of words of wisdom, encourage, and humor that drew people in in the first place.

I would go through the archives of this blog and just read for encouragement, read for a pick-me-up. I can’t do that any more. It would be like if I went into a bookstore and found that my favorite author had pulled their entire backlist because they wanted to “do something new.” So now I don’t get access anymore to the words that came before, the words that drew me in in the first place?

It begs the question: At what point does our creation stop belonging 100% to us? At what point does the reader actually have a bit of ownership in the work we’ve put out there? After all, without the reader, we wouldn’t be writers.

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