The Unbearable Banishment: career advice from Mr. Bukowski

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

career advice from Mr. Bukowski

Charles Bukowski is the master of laying it all out. Here, he talks of writing. But you can easily apply this advice to just about anything. Music. Acting. Painting. Accounting. Anything.

so you want to be a writer?

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 so 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
and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in

there is no other way.

and there never was.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This should be posted in all high school guidance counselor's offices.

December 23, 2008 at 9:00 AM  
Blogger Digital Fortress said...

Good advice from a great poet.

December 23, 2008 at 10:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

going to send both of my 20-something sprogs to read this... and take a bit of it to heart myself.

best capture of "passion" that i've read in awhile...

December 23, 2008 at 11:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Except for the last part of it (writing) doing it (writing) by itself, I agree.

If only my writing could simply write itself. That would be a neat trick.

December 23, 2008 at 4:55 PM  
Blogger A Free Man said...

I'm not a huge Bukowski fan, but this is pretty damn good advice.

December 23, 2008 at 6:57 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Pop: Wish I’d had this advice when I was in high school.

Digital: A great poet? Okay. I agree.

Daisy: This is the type of life lesson that crosses the generation divide.

Annie: I think he means that “writers” don’t have to force the issue the way civilians have to.

AFM: There’s plenty where this came from. Time for a second look at Bukowski?

December 23, 2008 at 9:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

CB is the man. No one else comes close. except maybe John Fante occasionally.....

December 24, 2008 at 4:58 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

nurse: John Fante! You and I are seekers on the same path.

December 24, 2008 at 12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great advice. To the point, and from the guy at the end of the bar.

December 24, 2008 at 2:07 PM  

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