Sparked by Words

I Am Not Responsible

Writers are not responsible for readers whose knowledge and life experiences are so dwarfed they can’t relate to what is written. Assuming the writer is clear and succinct in their craft, it’s the reader’s responsibility to educate himself sufficiently so he can participate in reading an extensive literature.

Imagine if it were every writer’s task to teach the alphabet before he began to write. A is for abecedarian, B is for bahadur, C is for clupeoid, Z is for zymosis.*

That being said, writers may not write in tongues, arbitrary and fabricated languages having no value other than to caress the writer’s ego. In that case, writers do need to teach the alphabet. (Perhaps as well to see a therapist.) Also the culture, the history, the aspirations, and the APO of the invented country. Maybe that should be the UPO – Universal Post Office.

Invention, however, is the domain of fiction writers. Be creative, fellow writers. Don’t teach the alphabet but do incorporate internal logic and some familiar external landmarks by which your readers can find their way. In other words, leave the light on. And a switch near at hand. At least a glossary.

Writers and readers need have a shared ground and some common sense. We are all responsible for that much.



abecedarian: a person who is learning the alphabet

bahadur: a distinguished personage

clupeoid: like the herrings

zymosis: fermentation

Definitions from The World Book Dictionary, 1987, in two-volumes


Just a thought 7



Dictionary page image courtesy:


Comments on: "I Am Not Responsible" (21)

  1. Shari, wise words indeed – it is a joint collaboration between the reader and the writer and both must be aware of the responsibilities to create and enjoy a book! How true that some writer’s want to show off and it is more about their ego and skill than creating a book for all…but that is their choice (as it to see the therapist!)😃 BTW, I love the words you’ve taught me this morning…I’ll try to remember a couple at least. Can’t believe there is a word for someone learning the alphabet!


    • Have you run into people who write “books” because they’re trying to sort out their personal problems, and then believe they’ve create a book other people want to read? Great books have come out of personal strife, but a person must know how to craft a story, and that’s so much harder than writing down stuff that happened to you. So I agree with you that way too much ego is involved but also a lack of the trained skills a writer must learn. The reader also can’t come to the table with nothing on his plate, but it’s mostly the writer’s responsibility to construct a believable word world.

      Abecedarian – I majored in English lit where we ran into funny words.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This made me laugh. I’ve had a few experiences with people who actually got angry because they didn’t understand something I wrote. I think my style is pretty straight forward so their responses came as a shock. 🙂

    i guess we’re all on different wave lengths at times.


    • You made me laugh, Adrienne, and that’s always a good thing. I think we often are on different wave lengths but it’s not our job to hitch to someone else’s.
      Yes, your style is straight forward and it shows insight about the human condition.


  3. Makes sense. Let the reader know where they are, who they’re dealing with, and what’s at stake, and the reader can take it from there.


  4. I’m dying to know what motivated this post. I’ve had reader comments that had me scratching my head –“how do I politely answer this”–is that what happened? Hmm…


    • You’ve got me chuckling, Jacqui. You are familiar with the event that often inspires me to write, though I started this post a few months ago. I’m also astonished by how inattentive some readers are. And, I’ve made my own errors by not paying close enough attention. So sometimes I scratch my head and sometimes I blush. You at least are always polite – I get visibly annoyed (is that a strong enough word?) too often. Temper, temper.


  5. What a gift when we read a book and feel brought along for the entire story. I love to learn, and when the writer takes their time and approaches the story with an intelligence we are able to learn by, well that makes for a great book! I have no doubt you have achieved this..I know so time and time again here, anyway.


    • It’s the task of the writer to present a multi-dimensional story, rich with background, atmosphere, compelling plot, believable characters, and couched in powerful language. That done, it’s the reader’s choice to allow herself to become immersed. And, as you say, intelligence.


  6. I know my writing cannot appeal to everyone, yet, the angle I like to use when writing may be narrowing the number of possible readers. My angle? Writing from the antagonist’s point of view. Let’s face it, it is not as popular as the protagonist’s story.


    • That is an unusual approach, Glynis, and a very interesting angle. It has a lot of appeal, being dark and touching on anguish or revenge. I think there are lots of books written from the antagonist’s POV, or at least from the perspective of a main character who is less than honest or noble. What are your favorites?


  7. I’m clupeoid zymosising on your post because you are a bahadur. Otherwise, I would have just clicked “like” since I’ve already abecedarianed.


  8. As a writer all you can do is make it as clear as possible, as simply as possible (and I don’t mean dumbing it down). Once it is out there it is up to the reader to take from it what they will – whether it is the writer’s intention or something quite different. We cannot help but bring our own life experiences to the book when we read and that can add quite a different dimension.


    • Today’s reading audience is very different from when you and I were kids. A million distractions keep people from reading and when they do, they want immediate response because that’s what they’re used to from video games, online entertainment, TV, etc. Currying readership has become a responsibility of writers. Your final sentence, Irene, acknowledges another aspect of reading.

      Liked by 1 person

I would love to know what you think.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: