I hope to have conscientious people reading it. People who always at least try to do the right thing. People who have a stake in society and therefore make their contribution by doing the right thing. But I know some people of very questionable ethics will read this too.
Writing is such a solitary thing that almost always no one’s watching .
No one is watching us write.
No one is watching us proof read.
No one is watching us edit.
No one is watching us make a story in our head.
No one is watching us insert our own biases into it.
No one is totally aware of our intention behind publishing our work. Some publish for fame. Some publish for money. Some publish for affirmation of ourselves from our own-selves. There are many reasons.
So really it is very easy to shrug ourselves of all moral responsibility towards our readers because we didn’t ask them to read us. They’re choosing to read us. Let me tell you! If that’s what you think then you’re a fraud and a pretty sleazy one at that.
Respecting our readers is the number one ethical point that you’d be recognized for. If you are appreciative of their presence and feedback, they’ll become loyal. If you become dismissive and retaliatory with them, they’ll become disconnected. Your choice!
This doesn’t mean that writers should take undue, unjust and unfavorable commentary from their readers. But writers would do well to remember that they have the vantage point in all this since they’re telling the story, spinning their tale and taking the ownership of the story here. They hold an accountability to the reader and that’s an ethical point and something that we can’t teach some people of flawed morals. They have to learn and practice and believe it themselves.
Writers also have a duty to their writing. They shouldn’t write things that are openly wrong. For example! If you don’t know about depression, do not choose to write about it. If you don’t know what the life of a brown Muslim physician is, do not write about it. If you really want to write about things that you have no idea of, please research and know the topic that you’re going to write thousands of words for.
Writers can’t say “That’s your perception” to many readers without explaining their own writing and how to perceive it. This is a luxury that we have in writers’ forums where we get instant and continuous feedback. Individual interpretations will always be there but if many people understand our story remarkably different from how we told it then our story telling isn’t good enough. But that’s a whole another problem.
We owe our readers respect. We owe them consideration. Sometimes many readers are reading material to give feedback. If you look at this dynamic that has developed in this sentence, the reader is actually honoring the writer. Shouldn’t the reader be honored? How we can honor our readers is a question we all should ask ourselves.
We can commit ethical injustices against our readers. We can be unfair to our readers. We can even be snappy with them. Sometimes some readers by virtue of being unfair characters themselves probably bring that out of us. But that shouldn’t be our response to every feedback that we don’t like. We will have loads of feedback come our way when our work gets to a large audience. It’s all important and valuable feedback. Don’t dismiss it!