NaNoWriMo Inspiration (Day 17): How To Be a Good Writer by Charles Bukowski

I stumbled upon this poem by Charles Bukowski and I was obviously intrigued by the title for obvious reasons. I read the poem, and smiled for much of the time I did so. I paused on the phrase "sleep until moon" and thought to myself, "Ooh I like that. I like that very much". When I finsihed reading it, l wanted to cut and paste the body of the poem in a blog post and allow you to read it here, straight away, as quickly as possible so you could then go back to your writing and worrying about today's word count (not necessarily in that order). 

The reason I thought twice about sharing it directly, is because of the fourth word. That's a rude word, isn't it? It's a word some people don't like. It's a word that I don't like that all that much, though I use it occasionally, and hear it quite often. It's also a word that has stopped me writing. Literally, I mean. I've been writing dialogue, find myself hearing the F word spill out of a character's mouth, but before I type the four letter word out, I stop myself and panic.

"What if my readers don't like this word?" 

You can worry about your readers too much. They will decide if they like your book or not, not you.

You can worry about language too much. What's offensive to some, will be essential, validatory, authentic to others.

You can worry about putting yourself out there, but if you don't you may never be the writer you're supposed to be. 

Writing comes in all shapes, sizes and styles. Even if you never use a single swear word in your writing, that is not going to guarantee you success, however you define that be it a million copies sold or having all the world fall in love with you.

I wish I could say that as soon as I realised this I just said "F%^& it!" and pasted his poem below. But I didn't. I agonised over it for a little longer, chewed my lip some more and then decided against it. There's a link. People will find the words and read them

"Oh, but I want to."

That's what I said to myself the next day after I'd slept on it. So here it is. In all it's fucking glory.

how to be a good writer
by Charles Bukowski

you've got to fuck a great many women
beautiful women
and write a few decent love poems.

and don't worry about age
and/or freshly-arrived talents.

just drink more beer
more and more beer

and attend the racetrack at least once a


and win
if possible

learning to win is hard -
any slob can be a good loser.

and don't forget your Brahms
and your Bach and your

don't overexercise.

sleep until moon.

avoid paying credit cards
or paying for anything on

remember that there isn't a piece of ass
in this world over $50
(in 1977).

and if you have the ability to love
love yourself first
but always be aware of the possibility of
total defeat
whether the reason for that defeat
seems right or wrong -

an early taste of death is not necessarily
a bad thing.

stay out of churches and bars and museums, 
and like the spider be
patient -
time is everybody's cross, 

all that dross.

stay with the beer.

beer is continuous blood.

a continuous lover.

get a large typewriter
and as the footsteps go up and down
outside your window

hit that thing
hit it hard

make it a heavyweight fight

make it the bull when he first charges in

and remember the old dogs
who fought so well: 
Hemingway, Celine, Dostoevsky, Hamsun.

If you think they didn't go crazy
in tiny rooms
just like you're doing now

without women
without food
without hope

then you're not ready.

drink more beer. 
there's time. 
and if there's not
that's all right

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Image: Source

Frances M. Thompson

Londoner turned wanderer, Frankie is an author, freelance writer and blogger. Currently based in Amsterdam, Frankie was nomadic for two years before starting a family with her Australian partner. Frankie is the author of three short story collections, and is a freelance writer for travel and creative brands. In 2017, she launched WriteNOW Cards, affirmation cards for writers that help build a productive and positive writing practice. When not writing contemporary fiction, Frankie shops for vintage clothes, dances to 70s disco music and chases her two young sons around Amsterdam.
Find Frankie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+.

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