Hey, I didn’t say it. This guy did.
Writer Anis (pronounced anus?) Shivani, who I know nothing about, wrote an article for the Huffington Post entitled: “New Rules for Writers: Ignore Publicity, Shun Crowds, Refuse Recognition and More.” His article helped me to understand why I know nothing about him.
He gives ten commandments on how to be a writer—not a successful writer or a liked writer or even a good writer—just how to be the kind of writer you want to be. My summary of his article presents an early contradiction: Isn’t the type of writer anyone wants to be successful, liked and good?
Not according to Shivani, who seems overwhelmingly praised in the comments left on his article and now seems either like a hypocrite or unsuccessful in carrying out his message—he would prefer the later.
Shivani doesn’t believe in success, that’s why. “You fail because in your desperation to discover a new language you have only discovered faint echoes of your own disjointed claims,” he says. So does he think his article failed? Did he want it to fail? Does any of this even make sense?
To everyone who did support Shivani’s article, realize this: “Every audience ever known to man is stupid.” I believe he’s speaking to you. Again, why write an article—a self-help article meant for people to learn from—calling everyone who ever reads anything stupid? My head is close to implosion; there are too many contradictions and asinine statements. Shit, Shivani may be right: Am I stupid?
My possible saving grace here is that I consider myself a writer as well, at least I’m certainly aspiring to be one and I’m not sure I find these ten commandments to be helpful as much as they are bitter, obvious and to quote my fiction studio professor, “all having arrows that point in the same direction”—that direction being if you have low expectations you can never be disappointed. I discovered that around age eight.
These are his commandments: 1. Disobey the System, 2. Ignore Publicity, 3. Shun Crowds, 4. Seek Unemployment, 5. Converse Only with the Classics, 6. Refuse Recognition, 7. Don’t Pursue a Niche, 8. Aim for Zero Audience, 9. Accept Failure and 10. Think Small.
At first glance these tips sound like they’re being much too obviously irreverent—classic bratty teenage boy move. Not that Shivani is a teen boy, but he might as well be; think small is the most unenlightening, unfunny, borderline cliche tip up there. It drives home the rest of the commandments’ underlying message: Anis Shivani has been an unsuccessful writer, hates himself and has publicly resigned all self-respect.
I find it ironic and semi-amusing that Shivani in his number five commandment demands that writers not take seriously other contemporary writers. This might satisfy his number nine commandment about accepting failure though—I’m not taking him seriously, he’s failed, he’s accepted that, but doesn’t care because his audience is stupid anyway.
Oh, now I get it. He’s created a false self-righteous safety-net in response to rising unemployment and thinks that cynical self-acceptance is a nuanced approach to being a loser.
I think Anis needed to get this article off his chest, but I hope he stops crying soon.