so you want to be a writer?

May 3, 2007 at 1:13 am 2 comments

Charles Bukowski


if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
forget about it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

From sifting through the madness for the Word, the line, the way by Charles Bukowski. Copyright © 2003 by the Estate of Charles Bukowski.

OD’ing on Bukowski right now (for there is no other way to go about it). His poetry is as visceral and hard-hitting as can be. And amazingly vicariously pleasurable (when he is at his misogynistic worst, of course).

Since I can’t find Auden’s comment on wannabe writers, which is what I had planned to include in this comment, will just add this,

From Różewicz’s Proof,

a bore bores after death
a fool keeps up his foolish chatter
from beyond the grave

And another Bukowski via minstrels,

some people never go crazy.
what truly horrible lives
they must lead.

How appropriate this poem seems in this age when everyone and his dog “writes” a book and book deals are just part of the celebrity checklist. One wishes and hopes that people would stop trying to be writers. The repeated reprimanding reminder (don’t do it.) brings back memories of high school grammar lessons and grad school references to Shrunk and White.



Entry filed under: Black Mamba, Charles Bukowski, English.

Start They Flee From Me

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Alex Grant  |  May 4, 2010 at 4:53 am

    Do you mean misanthropic?

  • 2. frågor om blekning av tänder  |  January 7, 2012 at 9:38 am

    frågor om blekning av tänder…

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