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
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.



About circusinpurgatory
Nick Masesso Jr’s fictionalized short stories, poetry and prose have been published in the Starry Night Review, Elegant Thorn Review, Language and and Vagabond Press; the Battered Suitcase. His latest book “Armor of Innocence” and first book “Walking the Midway in Purgatory, a Journal” are available on-line and through bookstores.

3 Responses to So You Want To Be A Writer by Charles Bukowski

  1. James Mcfarland says:

    mind boggling with repetition, not well written, incoherent, a 2.3 rating…. power to charles whoever this is, if he achieved success. recommend sticking with nick massesso originals.

    • circusinpurgatory says:


      If it weren’t for Charles Bukowski, one of America’s best-known contemporary writers of poetry and prose, and, many would claim, it’s most influential and imitated poet, I would never have written a word. He was my teacher. I own 32 of his books published while alive; there are more now since many have been published posthumously, perhaps another 15. All of his books have now been published in translation in over a dozen languages.

      Buk is credited with being the Prometheus of poetry by stealing it from those he called the “University Boys” and giving it to the common man; saying “everyman’s life has poetry”. When a socialite found him destitute on a park bench in Hollywood at 45 years old and brought him to her Beverly Hills mansion and cleaned him up and gave him the best food, booze and smokes and a clean wonderful place to live he was unable to write. When asked why he said “nobody comfortable ever wrote anything worth a damn”.

      Buk a longtime bum and alcoholic is the author of now-classic novels such as Post Office, Factotum, and Women; he rose from obscurity to become world famous. His friends, including Norman Mailer, Allen Ginsberg, Sean Penn, Mickey Rourke, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, R. Crumb, and Harry Dean Stanton. They are among the legions worldwide that revere his work. He’s an iconoclast with rock star status in Europe.

      Mickey Rourke played him in one of the two Hollywood film made about his life “barfly” and Matt Dillion starred in the other “factotum”. There’s also a documentary entitled “Bukowski: Born into this” which is filmed in cinema verite style that often plays on TV as do those two films along with eight other films featuring him; some just poetry readings.

      In 2011, the actor James Franco publicly stated that he is in the process of making a film adaptation of Bukowski’s novel Ham on Rye. He is currently writing the script with his brother David Franco and explained that his reason for wanting to make the film is because “Ham on Rye is one of my favorite books of all time.” His work is marked by an emphasis on the ordinary lives of poor Americans, the act of writing, alcohol, relationships with women and the drudgery of work. Buk wrote thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories and six novels, eventually publishing over sixty books. In 1986 Time called Bukowski a “laureate of American lowlife”. Regarding Bukowski’s enduring popular appeal, Adam Kirsch of The New Yorker wrote, “the secret of Bukowski’s appeal is that he combines the confessional poet’s promise of intimacy with the larger-than-life aplomb of a pulp-fiction hero.

      In 2007 and 2008 there was a movement to save Bukowski’s bungalow at 5124 De Longpre Avenue from destruction. The campaign was spearheaded by preservationist Lauren Everett. The cause was covered extensively in the local and international press, including a feature in David S. Wills’s Beatdom magazine, and was ultimately successful. The bungalow subsequently was listed as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument called Bukowski Court. The cause was criticized by some as cheapening Bukowski’s “outsider” reputation.

      Bukowski died of leukemia on March 9, 1994, in San Pedro, California, aged 73. The funeral rites, orchestrated by his widow, were conducted by Buddhist monks.

  2. Pingback: Reflection for today…Great Writers- Charles Bukowski « MYSOULSONICE

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