Recently, I read a thread on a writers’ forum discussing the issue of whether or not a writer has a responsibility to his readers in terms of content. The question was asked in relation to younger readers. To me, the issue of a reader’s age is somewhat irrelevant. I believe that a writer, without exception, is always responsible for the content of his writing. True, you cannot control or dictate the specific behavior of your readers in relation to your writing, but you control the writing. When you write, you are essentially teaching. It does not matter if you are writing non-fiction, fiction, poetry, or humorous anecdotes about your cat. You are teaching. To shirk that responsibility or attempt to rationalize it away is cowardly. We do not write in moral vacuums.

Does this mean you need to analyze and predict what the net educational effect is of your writing? No. In most cases, I don’t think that’s possible. We are incapable of playing God. However, give your readers something healthy. Do you think a food manufacturer blithely dismisses any concerns about the healthiness, or unhealthiness, of their product? There is little difference between a story and a sandwich. They both provide sustenance.

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