Besides all that, of course, there was my responsibility to the patient, to his or her family, to the people with whom they worked (you know--get them back here as soon as possible), to the community (sorry--your dry cleaner is closed today)... You get the picture.
Now that I'm retired from medicine and writing full-time (or as full-time as retirement permits), you'd think my responsibilities would have diminished. Sorry to say, they haven't. Now I have to please my editor (and usually there are two or three involved before it's all over), the reviewers, the readers, and on and on. But if I find myself trying to please everyone, I'm much like the rider who jumped on his horse and rode off in all directions at once. Not only does the end product suffer, the result of writing that tries to please everyone doesn't sound like me.
What I've tried to do--and I don't always succeed--is remember how I got into writing in the first place. God placed a very specific burden on my heart to write a non-fiction book about the loss of my wife. I did that, and that book continues to minister, many years after its publication. Then, through a set of circumstances that can only be referred to as a "God thing," I got into writing fiction, and was eventually published. But if I deviate, if I find myself writing to please a particular segment, if I wake up at 4 AM worrying that a line in my latest book won't sit well with a prominent author who has promised an endorsement, I've lost my focus. That's when it's time to refocus--on the One who got me here in the first place. That's who I need to please.
In your life, are there people you have to please--at the office, at home, even at church? Do you find yourself going off-course to please them, even if it requires being just a bit hypocritical to do so? I do. How about you?
(photo via Flickr)