It’s an age long argument. Is it an author’s duty to influence public opinion or are daily events should stay just as an inspiration for the author’s larger scheme of things? That argument has been debated since activism vs journalism has been the subject of heated polemics.
As William Faulkner said, is a story inside a person and it has to come out? Or should it be a preconceived process of making one’s ideas more marketable? Or the fire within should be more potent to digest, or it should act upon the “discovered truth” to change a society?
In short, the egoistic, introvert creator we call an author has a social function, or his only purpose is an indirect effect on the grand platform of social change? As Oscar Wilde once said that all storytellers are consummate liars, but there is more truth in their lies than in people who live on the surface of life and call it truth. But how the stories, or so-called lies convert into a wave to sweep the feet of humankind? Is it a pre-planned plot, or it is an inevitable collection of tiny drops of truth as told by an incurable mythomane.
In the US, they teach kids that the author’s purpose is a pie; that is to say to inform, to entertain and to persuade. But is it possible to inform, entertain and persuade all at the same time? Do we actually attribute too much to writers?
In our age as the lines between a publication and the reader are blurred with the advent of concepts like electronic publishing, social media and unlimited distribution of content, it’s not even clear who is the author or who is the audience. Information, ideas and content travel in the speed of the light to reach even the remote corners of the world. While lifting a great burden from the shoulders of the author, that fact also weighs in more responsibility to the writer. His writings could enable incredibly more in the age of Internet. The role of activism in the US, Europe, Asia and especially in the Middle East have changed immensely due to the writings of previously unknown writers we call bloggers. Even established authors are now walking this path unbeknown to them just a few years ago.
So the perception of duty of authors is an ever changing one. Author has responsibilities towards his people, his comrades and to the future of his society, and must be able to adapt and change with the contemporary wave.
The author’s sole responsibility is unto himself. An author is a recluse by nature. He doesn’t care where his words lead. He acts on urges to tell a story. What he communicates is a comprehensible version of his inner works. He is an avid collector of sketches. These small items collect in his mind as broken dreams to be stitched by an invisible hand to mean something at the end.
An author doesn’t care. He is seldom interested in where his ideas go today. He’s much aspired to how his opus would stand the erosion of time. He wonders how future generations of humankind would perceive his work.
He’s alone for he prefers to be. He seems like enjoying the cheers, but he cheers being understood if he feels so. So assigning attributes is the worst way to treat an author with. He’s in dire need to be left alone and collect his hints of memories and to convert it into a language only he’s aware of. He doesn’t have a mission for humanity. His only mission is to survive the creative process. He has a life which he should devote to the only thing he can: to reproduce reality so it’s not boring any more. And hopefully more people will enjoy his oeuvres in the years to come.
Yes, the authors hope, too.