Monday, April 11, 2005

The Writer's Responsibility

I have been working my way through the Jungian Novel Writing site. Interesting stuff. As I was reading the Myth-Making page, today, I came across this statement:

When all is said and done, the author must evaluate her/his work for moral
content and revise it accordingly...Stephen King, after learning that a boy used
one of his novels as a model to kill one of his fellow students and hold his
class hostage, expressed regret that he'd ever written the novel...An author is
responsible for what s/he dumps into the world.

I take issue with a couple of parts of this statement. While I am certainly responsible for the words and works that I bring into the world, I am in no way responsible for what other people do with those words. This is an issue of personal responsibility. Each of us is responsible for his or her own actions and statements. I'm terribly sorry if a person had a miserable childhood, but that does not excuse that person from responsibility for their behavior. The same goes for discrimination, whether racial, gender- or age-based, or whatever. People who discriminate are responsible for their own actions, and you are responsible for your responses to them. As adult humans, we are each responsible for controlling ourselves and for facing the consequences if we fail to do so.

Can my words have an effect on other people? Certainly. My writing may influence other people to act in certain ways whether I agree with them or not. Does that, then, make me responsible for the actions of those other people? No. I have no intention of trying to control another person. I offer my writing to the world as a glimpse into my soul, a brief explanation of my personal mythology. My responsibility is to tell the truth as I see it and as the story demands it.

I am not responsible for saving the world or any of the people in it. I am responsible for saving myself and offering the world a look into the how's and why's of that process. I don't have the strength for any more. Take what you want and leave the rest. If I tell you to jump off a cliff, whether or not you jump is up to you.

"Revise accordingly?" I don't think so. Sometimes the truth is ugly. Sometimes the truth hurts. Sometimes other people do not and will not like my truth. That will not stop me from saying it.

So there. ;-)


At 7:36 PM, Blogger Jean said...

I concur. We are each responsible for the consequences of the actions we decide to take. Just because we read about it in a book or see it on television or in the movie theater does not mean we are compelled to do what we've seen (although, some of those commercials are pretty compelling, but, yes, I do have the final say in how I choose to act).


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