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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Paradoxical Commandments for Writers

You’re probably familiar with the Paradoxical Commandments, often attributed to Mother Teresa. (See below*.)

As I pondered what to talk about in today’s Novel Rocket post, my wife suggested I think of Paradoxical Commandments that would apply to writers.

So while realizing I won’t come close to the brilliance of the original, I submit for your perusal a few commands I need to keep in mind on this journey called publishing.

  • Editors, agents, and other writers can sometimes be unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. 
  • If you tell others about your stories because you can’t keep your belief in them inside, people will call you self-absorbed and self-serving. Keep telling the world about your stories anyway. 
  • Your closest friends and own family might say your desire to write is a dream of fools. Keep dreaming anyway.
  • If you share your writing secrets and mind-bending plot ideas with other writers, some people will steal them. Share them anyway. 
  • The story you spend years creating, others will mock with scathing reviews, and tactless critiques. Create your story anyway.
  • If you find sales success and are given awards for your writing, some may be jealous.  Celebrate your success anyway.
  • The networking connection you make, or pivotal career advice you give, to an aspiring writer might be forgotten and unappreciated by them. Make the connection and give the advice anyway. 
  • Pouring every ounce within you into that manuscript might not be enough to get you a contract and you'll be left broken and discouraged. Keep giving everything to your manuscripts anyway. 
  • In the final analysis, your writing career is between you and God.  So write for Him and let all else rest slip away. He is more than capable of handling the anyways. 

James L. Rubart is the best-selling, award winning author of four novels. Publishers Weekly says this about his latest: ““Readers with high blood pressure or heart conditions be warned: [Soul’s Gate] is a seriously heart-thumping and satisfying read that goes to the edge, jumps off, and “builds wings on the way down.” During the day he runs Barefoot Marketing which helps authors make more coin of the realm. He lives with his amazing wife and two sons in the Pacific Northwest and loves to dirt bike, hike, golf, take photos, and still thinks he’s young enough to water ski like a madman. More at

* The verses below reportedly were written on the wall of Mother Teresa's home for children in Calcutta, India, and are widely attributed to her. 

Some sources say the words were written on the wall in Mother Teresa's own room.  In any case, their association with Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity has made them popular worldwide. There is evidence they are based on a composition originally by Kent Keith, but much of the second half has been re-written in a more spiritual way. 

  • People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.
  • If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.
  • If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  Succeed anyway.
  • If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  Be honest and sincere anyway.
  • What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway.
  • If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.
  • The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway.
  • Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway.
  • In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway. 


  1. I love that. What a great reminder to continue to believe in yourself regardless of what the naysayers may throw at you. I may have to print this one out and hang it over my desk.

  2. I'm really liking this blog post,and I have to agree with,Ron's comment.

  3. Great blog post! Thanks for sharing your wisdom and that of Mother Theresa's.

  4. Yes, there are so many conflicting concepts in the writing world. Blog/don't blog. Write your passion/write to market. I enjoyed this list. In the end, it boils down to do your best, let God do the rest...and don't worry about the flak you catch for it. Thanks for this post!

  5. I will print this out and hang it right by my computer and recite it everytime I sit down to create.

    Thanks Jim!

  6. These remind me of the talk I have to give myself every so often when I'm tempted to let self and sin triumph. Darcy had a great idea, and you said it well. Thanks for these reminders.

  7. This is good stuff to remember. Thanks for listening to your wife!

  8. If people don't know you're an outstanding free-lance copy editor (thanks to your phenomenal 10th-grade English teacher), keep telling them anyway. They may not believe it, but eventually some will give you a try.........and be so glad they did. Be sure to give them your email address:

    Done!! :)

  9. This is great! I'm going to put it on my computer desk to remember :)

  10. Jim, good stuff. I may print your words and put them on my wall. Jo


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