Me and Bukowski [Inc. ‘So you want to be a writer?’ by Bukowski]

In Gupter Puncher/Oli Johns on June 30, 2010 at 1:16 pm


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.


I stopped walking the floor, up and down, up and down, around in little circles, and sat down and daydreamed about women, the women I’d have when I was a somebody, no, the women I’d reject when I was a somebody, no, no, the women I’d play with and torture when I was a somebody, and all the time I was dreaming this I was staring at the screen, thinking of clever things to write, thinking of honest things to write, fuck, thinking of anything to write that could get me in a position to play with women, and as I dreamed I switched to another thing, I switched to money, and I thought of how someone, some publisher or philanthropist or literary somebody would give me this money, this phantom money that I couldn’t even imagine, or could almost not imagine because I could imagine a suitcase full of money or a money pit full of money, and that wasn’t realistic but it was still money, and I knew I’d have it one day, or I wouldn’t have it, but I’d have the chance of it, before rejecting it with the same sweep of the hand as the women, because I couldn’t play with money, there was no joy in playing with money, and, fuck, all this was academic anyway as I wasn’t writing anything, and the last thing I wrote was exactly like someone else, and I didn’t really know who but it was maybe like Vonnegut or Bukowski or Daisy Anne Gree and, fuck, Bukowski, the very one who’d told me not to write like anyone else, and sitting there, in front of my computer, thinking of Bukowski and Vonnegut, I thought of how much hard work it all was and what was the point of going any further…


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.


…and I continued to sit there for the rest of the day and the rest of the night, and then another five days passed before I moved for the remote and flicked the TV on and, fuck, house was on, and I watched it thinking of what I’d write afterwards, and it wasn’t so bad that a show like house had stopped me from writing because it was decent in its own right, and the computer would still be there afterwards, and my brain would still be moving, and who knew what ideas would come to me then? But after House there was the vampire diaries and after that there was true blood and after that there was americas got talent and after that there was something in putongha that I couldn’t understand but there was a woman in it, a woman that I could see myself playing with in the not so far off future, and then there was box office america and then there was nothing, and I sat and watched nothing for a while and chastised myself for not writing, because the whole world was waiting patiently for whatever was coming next from me, and then a little while after that I realized that no one was waiting for anything coming from me, not from any direction or on any subject, and I felt low, and impatient, and I wondered why it never roared out of me like Bukowski promised it would…


The next day I didn’t write anything.

I watched battlestar galactica

Only re-runs


The next day I wrote five lines

About battlestar galactica

And cylons


The next day I thought of killing myself

But not seriously

Pathetic fraud


The next day I read some poetry

And remembered I hated it

Fucking poetry


…and I called my Mum, even though I never call my Mum, but the phone was at my ear and the story was in my hand and I was reading her the thing I wrote about Roman Polanski, and I wasn’t sure if she was listening but I was reading it anyway, and after I was done she said it was great.


…and I called my sister even though we hadn’t talked in five years, not since she kicked me out of her house in Italy, at Christmas time too, even though I was the nicest, bestest, least problematic guy in the whole world, and I was still talking to her and reading the thing I wrote about Dennis Hopper and when I was done and even though she despised me she said it was great.


And I called Nicole and I read her a story too, that thing I wrote about Japanese, and she said it was great and I really believed her because it was great, it had to be great, and why would she lie to me anyway?


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.


Have I been chosen, and am I patient enough and will it be roaring out of me anytime soon? I wondered as I sat on my couch watching another fucking episode of the vampire diaries.


Am I no different to those pretentious dull ones in the library that I don’t want to think about it? I asked the wall of my living room, turning away from the unrelenting melodrama of the fucking vampire diaries.


I’m better than you Bukowski, I said to the kitchen and meant it as I remembered all the things he’d written and how repetitive it all was and how one note he was and how he never had any range and how one note he was and how repetitive and…


What part of being an idle drunk was burning your gut, Bukowski, I thought as I drank the seventh can of some Japanese shit I had forgotten the name of, what part of that was roaring out of you? Why didn’t you ever write science fiction, fuckface?


Fuck you, Bukowski, I said to the dog shouting at me on the hill road of Yau Tong, I’m chosen, so fuck you.


I’m sorry, Bukowski, I thought when I was alone with one of those library books. I’m sorry I shouted at you, I’m sorry I called you repetitive.


It’s me and you, Bukowski, I said to my computer screen on the seventh straight night of not knowing what to write anymore. Just give me a while and it’s me and you. I’ll follow your truth, trust me. I’ll follow it up and chase it down and let it burn my gut and roar out, because you’re right, Bukowski, you’re damn fucking right, and there was never any other way.


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