Monday, July 14, 2008

Ten Commandments for Writers

Damn, damn, damn and double damn.

What with google and its immense resources, you can never find the information you really want, like writings by a now well-out-of -date and somewhat obscure author named Tristan Tsara. Or maybe some utterance by the Third Caliph of Badhdad in the thirteenth century. Or a Borges story about that caliph and how he hat put his antagonist in a straight labyrinth, which is the cruellest and most complex of all.

So when I googled to find Tristan Tsara's Ten Commandments for writers, there were lots of imitators, but not the chiselled commandments of Tristan Tsara.

So I am reduced to mere memory, and there will be a lot of blanks as I try to remember Tsaras' advice and his thunder from the mountain


I. Respect for thy fellow authors, sayeth the Lord, thy God, and thou shalt not worship the false gods of fame and fortune.

II, Thou shalt not envy the quick success and royalties of your fellow authors, for superficial talent is quick to take hold and will not last, whereas deeper talent takes longer and its success is the longest lasting.

III. Thou shalt not criticize a fellow authors published work if thou are not published thyself. This will not count.

IV. Remember to keep holy thy writing days.

V. Honor thy editor and thy hardworking agent. She has a good heart in spite of it all.

VI. Thou shalt not kill thy neighbor's ego while critiquing her work, though purple prose may be slain at will.

VII. Thou shalt not commit adultery just to obtain material.

VIII. Thou shalt not steal plot ideas or words from thy fellow authors. *

IX. Thou shalt not bear false witness against another author by spreading gossip or by criticizing her work to booksellers and reviewers.

X. Thou shalt not covet thy neighboring author's wife, even if thine own refuses to support thy work.

X Thou shalt not covet thy neighboring author's contract, nor her place on the Quill and Quire (Canada) bestseller list
Whoops! That's eleven....Bu then I was always crummy at Roman numerals.

* Unless thou art stuck.
What are your Ten Commandments as a writer?
Cranky today. My picture file is corrupt. I am corrupt. My left jaw is throbbing witht the extracted teeth and I can only taste half of my martini because of the novocaine.
I can not talk very well today, and people seem to ignore me like they would a retarded person.
Now I know what that feels like. Come on new teeth!
I will be off the air for two days due to computer maintenance. Now you can write all sorts of scurrilous stuff here to be picked up by the automatic monitor....Man, am I going to have reading material when I get back. :)


Charles Gramlich said...

Some excellent commandments there. I should print these out and keep them on my wall. But sometimes sinning feels pretty good.

the walking man said...

If I could think up ten commandments for writers Ivan I probably would be sent to hell for breaking all of them.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Aren't we doomed to break commandments? Forgive me for I have sinned. said...



Like with the real Ten Commandments, we seem to like to tamper with one or two. said...

Astute comment, Mark.

Am I, for example not envious of the guy who just got into Canada, off the boat and walked away with all the literary prizes not only over here, but in Ireland too?
He gets the Giller.

I get the pillor.

Oh crappy pickings in the vinyard. :) said...


I guess in the course of a lifetime, we are bound to tamper with, even break one or two.
Or six.

the walking man said...

Ha ha ha ha Ivan, you may lust after the Giller that went to a boat person , but I am not the right one to condemn you for it or deliver lashes as your tied to that particular stake.

ea monroe said...

Ivan, Josie has disappeared again!

Commandment #8 might have a loop hole. Appropriation of ideas.

Later! Hope you get your computer fixed. ~Liz

Jo said...

Ivan, that's because it is spelled Tristan Tzara. And Yahoo is better than Google. If you spell something wrong in Yahoo, it will correct it for you, but Google will not.

Give us a smile when you're done.

JR's Thumbprints said...

Hey, a man's got to defrag once in awhile. Hope all those corrupt files make for a good story. said...


So that's it!

Fair memory on my part. Rotten spelling. said...



Envy is not listed among the commandments, but as one of the seven deadly sins.
I must say I particularly savour gluttony and lust. :) said...



Just call me Barabbas.

Rmember that scene in the life of Brian? The hanging thief (Michael Palely?) is told to "come on get happy." Darn uncumfortable

...oh. Here is Josie down below. said...


Talk about defragging!

I lugged my -sixty pound computer over to the shop, had my picture file fixed, lugged the mortarforker back to the house only to have Ma Bell reject my name and password.

"Help!" I yell to my techie,but he says my problems seems to be logging (re-logging?) with Bell, who supplies my service.
Fifty bucks down the drain, but I have developed a compulsion mania.
I said to the IT guy, "I will give you a hundred bucks if you yourself log me in with Bell."
Ma Bell, like me, is illiterate and incompetent... And very robably, Taliban....Last time I had this problem, they told me how to fix it in Pashtun, and another time in Urdu.

Yes, this could make a good story, but now with no computer, I can't seem to write any more. Maybe the god of writing (Toth?...the Egyptian guy with the bird beak?) is trying to tell me something.

Just because you can write fast on the computer doesn't mean you can write good.

Ah. An omen. I just dropped my pen here in the library and a beautiful woman picked it up and gave it to me.

Coome on bird-headed god!

Midnight said...

Any man, that can glue a kitten to a keyboard, deserves more than he can handle.

Cheer O ! said...


(Fr) Looks like the cat sank.

Jo said...

Ivan, I think maybe your website is jinxed. I have tried three times to leave a comment now, and each time it won't let me.

I was wondering why you have a username and password to log onto your computer. I don't have one, I just boot up. I only have a username and password for Blogger.


Perhaps you should change service providers.

Jo said...

Ivan, do you know what I just discovered? When your masthead shows at the top of the page, I can't post, but when it goes away, I can....

I think that is causing you problems.

the walking man said...

I don't have that problem Jo said...


I think my techie did something when he tried to write on my blog for a test. He had put up his first name and initial-- Dan D, which, for some reason now keeps popping up on my website, will not go away and has scotched any further efforts of mine to blog from the library here.
Full moon.
One is going loony.
I need a drink!

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