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So you want to be a writer? March 7, 2009

Posted by The Typist in 504, New Orleans, NOLA, poem, Poetry.
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As part of our continuing effort here on Toulouse Street to keep something up on the blog while I lay on the couch conducting an extended study of Brownian Motion in dust motes, here’s another lazy cut-and-post: this one featuring Charles Bukowski on writing and inspiration (or the lack thereof).

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.

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Comments»

1. tinarathore - March 7, 2009

this is an amazing post…lazy? no! or may be u feel lazy writin’ it ‘coz there’s someone else working inside you.
great inspiration.

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2. Pontchartrain Pete - March 8, 2009

One thing I always liked about your writing is that the care you feel for the topic always shows through. My nature tends toward the flippant and apathetic and I have to constantly pull away from that and put a good face on my assignments. As I write this comment I am struggling to do just that with my latest assignment. So, to Bukowski’s words of wisdom, I would add, if you are flippant and apathetic, don’t try it. You may wind up polishing turds for a living, which is what I feel most of my work has been recently.

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3. LisaPal - March 8, 2009

True, true, true.

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4. Wet Bank Guy - March 9, 2009

Ah, hell, and then I hear on the radio Finn McCool is having a St. Patrick’s Day story contest, and so I’ve wasted the night away working on something and I’m having a ball doing it. I guess I was just waiting for the right inspiration to come along, and someone dangles a full keg of Guinness in my face.

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5. Verite Parlant - March 9, 2009

I hear Bukowski and yet I see everywhere books on how to be a writer. 🙂

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