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Erin Steeley : An Author's Responsibility to Readers

An Author's Responsibility to Readers

By Erin Steeley

While perusing one of my favorite writing magazines, I was intrigued by reference to an author's responsibility to his or her readers. Fascinated, I began to consider what my own responsibility was, where it began and what it entailed. In my own mind, I laid out my responsibility began with the readers, and in inspiring them to love reading, but also to learn to enjoy the process of writing. In essence, my responsibility never ends, it only grows and encompasses an amazing relationship that binds me to those who pick up my books. Writing, getting a book published, selling and making a living as an author is only a small part of the process. The fun really begins when an author connects to the readers, of all ages.

Showing children and adults what an amazing thing it is to use your imagination to write and create is a love that I have. Writing is done in so many parts of our lives, and there are so many ways to use it. Journaling about your life or day, recording family history, or teaching others how to write books are just a few examples of what authors can show readers. We can also open our minds and skills to others, explaining how we go about our process to make the stories that hit the shelves. When people get to see inside our minds, we get a look inside theirs and make a connection that is priceless.

One program that brings this to children in my area is called Young Authors. A local college will bring in an author to work with a group of children who wrote their own books at school and were chosen to attend the one day conference. The cost to bring in the author can sometimes go into the thousands, but grants have allowed this to program to be a reality. Recently, when the grant ran out, many colleges near me have had to cancel program for the lack of funds. I find this disturbing as so many potential writers are going to be denied the chance to sit and hear an author, in his or her own words, tell them the parts of the process and inspire them to write.

Frustrated that I couldn't find funding, I came up with another option that would not only benefit this area, but anywhere that an author is placed. If an author would be willing to give one free day to a local school to come in and speak to the children for free. Just one afternoon, even an hour, would make a huge difference in a child's life. During this time, just by showing how the writing process works or how a certain book was written would be a huge boon to the children and the teachers. I am not saying that someone who can't afford it should fly halfway across the nation, but just putting in a small moment nearby could rejuvenate the connection to the readers that at times may be distant.

A small gift of our time is something that is not only priceless to the person receiving it, but the person giving it as well. I also think that it helps writers, too, in that we start to understand our readers on a new level — a personal one. Money, deadlines and other business concerns can be put aside for a small time, just to connect with our readers. In reality, bringing an author in is something that most schools cannot afford to do. The cost can be astronomical to a small district or one that is made of mostly of families just struggling to make ends meet.

A writer's responsibility to readers can be something unique to each one, but in basic terms we do have a job that needs to be done each day — giving more to the readers than just a book, but also a little piece of inspiration and the love to create. •

© 2009 Erin Steeley. All rights reserved.

Erin SteeleyErin Steeley is the author off "The Soldier and the Storyteller." She work in children's books and anything that happens to catch her imagination. More »

Updated 1/5/14