So YOU Want To Be A Writer?

Charles Bukowski (1920–1994)
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.

Me, a writer? Jackson Fielder, me?


As I type this I am on my 62nd tour of the grand trip in sole.

Going back to middle to high school years I wanted to be a writer. This, per my young mind I suppose, was something one “became”. I see now, in my “wiser” years, that a wordsmith is something one simply “is”. Just do it. Take up pencil, pen or keyboard and jot down something.

One of my college professors told me once upon a time that I did not have enough life experiences to be a writer. And whilst I was but 18 or 19 at the time, little did he know the shit that I’d experienced through childhood. Ahem, perhaps I really could use the wisdom of time to be able to organize that shit into something able to be legibly conveyed to a reader.

Anyway, I resented his remark and admit that I was disappointed too as of course I wanted to be a writer NOW and not a few decades later.

I do not remember the context of his remark, what conversation we had leading up to the comment, but I wrote despite his opinion. As one year unfolded into the next I was influenced by the hardcore punk scene (think: Minor Threat, Fugazi, NOFX, Bad Brains and Rancid). It was like a match to jet fuel what Bukowski’s writing and punk music did to my already rebellious teenage spirit which has never died, even to this very day.

I had discovered Mr. Bukowski around my twenties and was greatly influenced by his authorcraft. And by influenced I mean that I did not in any way seek to copy his style nor subject matter(“if you’re trying to write like somebody else, forget about it”), but that he awakened my own raw voice. And I use the term raw because if you’ve read some of his works you may grasp the same feeling: smell, say a Mexican cantina he describes, hotel rooms, share in his hangovers, picture his whores, etc..

I recognized the naked “isness” of unbathed life.

Now here I am: seen as an old fart by some(though I, and perhaps all other old farts, don’t feel old yet — I’m putting it off until around 90), having all kinds of things wanting to “come bursting out” of me. Posting here the “unasked” seeking to be freed from the “heart” and “mind” via my “mouth” and wretched from my “gut.”

It’s like it HAS to come out. MUST be liberated from some spot inside that it cannot remain. It’s akin to a drowning man clawing for the surface of the sea, reaching for the infinite air of atmosphere just above that liquid skim of boundary between depths and atmosphere.

I walk through my days now with an ever-present mini composition book in a hip pocket. I carry two pens(lest one fail in a moment of inspiration) in the front pocket of my shorts or trousers.

“It” DOES want to “roar out of” me and “come out of [my] soul like a rocket.”

It has, as well, become clear to me that “being still would drive [me] to madness or suicide or murder.” Mr. Bukowski says that if one doesn’t feel that way then “don’t do it.”

And so it if “it is truly time”, and if I “have been chosen” then “it will do it by itself and it will keep on doing it until [I] die or it dies in [me].”

Perhaps my “time” has arrived. If that is the case, then

“there is no other way

and there never was.”

I’m down.

~ Jackson