about that

 so you want to be a writer?
 by 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
typewriter
searching for words,
don't do it.
if you're doing it for money or
fame,
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
else,
forget about it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of
you,
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-love.
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
sleep
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.
 don’t tryby charles bukowski.

manuscript image: bukowski.net


Transcript
Dec. 23, I990

Hello Wm Packard:

No, you're not down, maybe I'm down, sometimes I feel like my skivvies
are down around my ankles and my butt is a target for hyena turds.

Listen, your Pincus is awful hard on the poets. I thought I was hard
on the poets. Well, I'm glad I get by him. And he's right on WAITING.
Only if the octipus has you in its tentacals you can't wait too long.

On WAITING I know what he means. Too many writers write for the wrong
reasons. They want to get famous or they want to get rich or they
want to get laid by the girls with bluebells in their hair. (Maybe
that last ain't a bad idea).

When everything works best it's not because you chose writing but
because writing chose you. It's when you're mad with it, it's when
it's stuffed in your ears, your nostrils, under your fingernails.
It's when there's no hope but that.

Once in Atlanta, starving in a tar paper shack, freezing. There were
only newspapers for a floor. And I found a pencil stub and I wrote on
the white margins of the edges of those newspapers with the pencil
stub, knowing that nobody would ever see it. It was a cancer madness.
And it was never work or planned or part of a school. It was. That's
all.

And why do we fail? It's the age, something about the age, our Age.
For half a century there has been nothing., No real breakthrough, no
newness, no blazing energy, no gamble.

What? Who? Lowell? That grasshopper? Don't sing me crap songs.

We do what we can and we don't do very well.

Strictured. Locked. We pose at it.

We work too hard. We try too hard.

Don't try. Don't work. It's there. It's been looking right at us,
aching to kick out of the closed womb.

There's been too much direction. It's all free, we needn't be told.

Classes? Classes are for asses.

Writing a poem is as easy as beating your meat or drinking a bottle of
beer. Look. Here's one:

flux

mother saw the racoon,
my wife told me.

ah, I said.

and that was
just about
the shape of things
tonight.

HAPPY NEW YEAR

(Signed)

from letters of note.

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