More questions. More help. Introducing Mastering Table Topics Second Edition.

A Writer’s Oath

I, Matthew Arnold Stern, do solemnly swear upon my honor, that as a published author, I promise the following:

  • I shall act as a professional at all times. My other employers wouldn’t tolerate me coming three hours late to appointments and missing deadlines because I “didn’t feel inspired.” I won’t do that as an author.
  • I shall treat my readers with utmost respect and appreciation. If I write material that is confusing, laden with overblown and obtuse language, or just plain boring, it’s because I didn’t do a good job of writing, not that my readers are “bourgeois philistines whose brains are too damaged by television to appreciate True Art.”
  • I shall appear at media interviews sober and coherent, answer all questions cheerfully no matter how many times I’ve been asked them, and use language that is suitable for family publications.
  • I shall treat critics with respect. If a critic gives me a negative review, I shall not write slanderous articles about that person in Salon.
  • I shall not use street slang or get tattoos and body piercings in a feeble attempt to seem “edgy” and “alternative.”
  • I shall not snort Ritalin, trip on herbal Ecstasy, sniff glue, or huff dry-erase markers.
  • I shall not buy large quantities of my books to inflate my sales figures.
  • I shall not buy Twitter followers to inflate my audience.
  • I shall not make up “true” stories and then try to defend myself by saying “the feeling of the story is true even if the facts aren’t.”
  • I shall not plagiarize.
  • I shall not whine about, cover up, or exaggerate about my upbringing.
  • I shall not talk about my genitals or bodily functions.
  • I shall not use my fame to make uninformed declarations about international policy, political figures, the environment, or weight-loss methods.
  • When I finally have become a has-been, I shall accept my anonymity with grace. I shall not appear on celebrity reality shows and infomercials, get into drunken public brawls, hold court in smoky bars and druggy discos regaling unwilling patrons about my “good ol’ days,” or otherwise carry out ridiculous and embarrassing publicity stunts to extend a fifteen minutes that has expired.

All of these I promise, so help me God (who I do believe in).