As readers, do we have a right to act as if a writer owes us something? I think we do, but not in the way that we most often make the claim. As readers we are not owed something we like or with which we agree. But writers do owe us something,a whole combination of somethings, in fact.
The reader deserves thoughtfulness from the writer. This is not the same asagreement or unanimity, but the reader is owed the result of careful consideration and reflection. The result may be agreeable to the reader or it may not, but the process must be well-thought through.
A writer owes the reader explanation. This is especially true when the writer has become known for a certain kind of thought or subject but has decided to diverge from that. Rationale for why he has gone a certain direction with histhought is important, even if the reader doesn’t agree.
Effort is a non-negotiable for writers, no matter who his reader is. The reader won’t always be able to recognize this in a specific piece, but it’s not hard to tell when a writer has mailed it in over time. Writers should not publish just to publish but because they have something at which they worked.
Honesty is a paramount quality of every good writer, one that opens the door between him and the reader. This means creative integrity such as attributionof ideas and phrases. It also means internal honesty. The writer must find his voice and not mimic others. He must form thoughts and claim them, then honestly adjust or discard them over time as he learns.
Finally, a writer owes the reader growth. This, again, might not be visible in a single piece. But if one reads a particular writer over time there should be evidence of it. This means the writer must be a learner and a reader. A writer, while he must find his voice, must avoid ruts and redundancy.