I have always wondered what the job of an author and the job of a book and an author? I have had a sort of internal conflict going on about what the job really is. Is the job of a book to be entertaining? Is the job to be a social commentary? Is it some where in the middle? Should I care what people think or does it matter? I don't know. Discuss.

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The job of a book depends on the kind of book it is and what you want it to communicate, but for the most part I think it's some combination of entertainment, social commentary, intellectual stimulation, etc. It's a pretty delicate balance, though; if it's not entertaining, people won't want to read it because dry and boring is not appealing, however insightful your social commentary; on the flipside, if it's just entertainment without some sort of intellectualism behind it, people (or at least intelligent people) won't want to read it because it's drivel.
As to whether you should care what people think, I believe the answer is "sort of." You can't please everyone, since all people think differently, but you should write with your audience in mind. The most important part of writing is the clear and engaging communication of ideas, so if your write in such a way that your audience can't understand you, your plotline, your characters... you haven't done a very good job of writing. It's good to take into account what other people might want to read or not read, but I don't think that this should be your primary anxiety.

I think Stephen King answers this question really well. The job of an author via his writing (whether that be a book, an essay or a memoir) is to tell the truth.

As long as what you are writing is true, to the characters, to the theme you are trying to convey, to your audience, then you have done your job. I think I know what this means, but I think I'd have to have some focused questions before I could really tell you what it means.

I like that. You tell, if not the truth, then a truth. Though what I tend to do is start with a story, then add characters, then realize there's some profound message emerging...the truth comes from the work, not the other way around.

Love your response on this, Melody!


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