I'm busy writing my new novel. I've already decided in advance that I'll publish it myself, on a blog, just as I have done with A Half Life of One. This decision has some interesting consequences.
For the first time in my life I feel as if I'm writing something without anyone looking over my shoulder. I'm not worried about who is eventually going to look at my finished manuscript. Not agents, nor publishers, nor friends. Not even casual readers. I'm writing the book simply for me. Once I've finished writing and editing - a lot of editing to satisfy my own internal reader - I'll simply post up the book and forget about it.
And yet, as I've discovered with Half Life, that isn't the end of the process. People do in fact read what you've written. Whether they comment or not on what they've read doesn't matter. Thanks to the magic of the site meter you can actually see how much time people have spent perusing your masterpiece. Sometimes it's hours, spread over several visits.
So, people of their own volition put time and effort into reading what you have written. Which makes me shift a little uncomfortably in my seat. By effectively self-publishing my novel I think I may have unwittingly entered into a contract with my readers. A contract for the exchange of energy, the flow of ideas and honest emotions.
But a contract implies rules and responsibilities on both sides. And the reason I'm squirming a little at the thought is because I fear I've short-changed my readers with the ending of the book. Although the ending is good enough for me, I know from the feedback I've had that it is not good enough for them. Not all of them anyway.
Does that matter? Do I have a responsibility not to short-change my readers in any way? Am I, in fact, obliged to put things right?
I'm not at all sure what to do here. I just can't decide whether a writer has any obligations towards his/her readers or not.
You're a reader, what do you think?