The other day, I stumbled upon the works of Rafał Olbiński, Polish-American painter and poster designer. Naturally, it didn’t happen in the dark alley but, rather, on the Internet where most of the stumbling upon happens to the likes of me.
Rafal Olbinski’s excellent mix of surreal and symbolic was used to illustrate a very neat interactive Adobe presentation on the Murphy’s Laws, however and unfortunately, not in English.
In my days as a computer programmer, I had a list of Computer Murphy’s Laws with oft-repeated gems such as:
- If a program is useful, it will have to be changed.
- If a program is useless, it will have to be documented.
- Make it possible for programmers to write programs in English, and you will find that programmers cannot write in English.
- Constants aren’t.
- Variables won’t.
I’m a law-abiding citizen most of the time. But when I look at my life closely, it seems that laws I never manage to break are those pesky Murphy’s Laws, all of them, it seems, even those exclusively addressing the lives of cowboys and construction workers.
These days, I write. But where are the Murphy’s Laws for writers? The presentation with Olbinski’s pretty pictures has lots of them — Computer Laws and Car Laws, Designer Laws and whatnot – but nothing specifically for writers.
So, to share good pictures sooner rather than later, I came up with my own set of Murphy’s Laws For Writers in the general spirit of those for IT people. It wasn’t hard — as I said, I practically live by them:
- Anything you write, however original, clever, funny or risqué, when completed – isn’t so much of either.
- Any idea you have as a writer requires qualities that you currently do not possess.
- Any work of writing, when completed, took longer and required more effort than you projected before you started.
- If the idea is fresh, it’ll be impossible to implement it as imagined.
- Switching to a new computer will inevitably wreck havoc into your writing habits and lead to chaos and discontent in your life.
- No matter how hard you work, want to write or really engrossed in your work, you’ll inevitably access the Internet for a disproportionately long time, and not for research.
- The value of your writing to humanity as a whole is inversely proportional to the weight of your manuscript.
- Profanity is one language all your readers know and understand.
- Any grammatical or syntactical error, no matter how subtle, can be found by simple inspection.
Corollary: An unfriendly incidental reader will spot it immediately and tease you.
- A brilliant word/thought/idea not immediately written down will roll out of your head and vanish to a degree of unreachability proportional to its importance.
- The strength of your conviction that all you need to write a book is to know how to write in your native language, is inversely proportional to your actual ability to produce a book.
- One or more of the following will inevitably happen:
- The ever expanding length and complexity of your magnum opus will exceed your life expectancy;
- The length and complexity of your manuscript will exceed your readers’ ability to read it in their lifetime;
- No one will read it anyway.
- Make it possible for writers to publish in English, and you will find that writers cannot write in English.
Not funny? I suspected as much. Check my Smile page and act accordingly –Smile!