Quote Challenge – Day 2 – Charles Bukowski


Day 2 of my Quote Challenge is devoted to my beloved drunk, my favorite grump, the poet, the lover, the bastard – Charles Bukowski. A gorgeous boy introduced me to Uncle Chuck years ago – we spent a night reading his poetry, whispering, laughing, and I have devoured his words ever since.

Bukowski is not for everyone, but he sure as hell is for me. I love his grit, the raw truth of his work, the rhythm of his words, but I also love how he makes poetry feel accessible and alive and possible. He inspires me, gives me the balls to create, and the backbone to keep at it.

I know this challenge is about quotes, and I promise to share mine in a second, but it’s also about words and the power of good words and sometimes I don’t think there are any better words for writers than those Mr. Bukowski put together in his poem So You Want To Be A Writer?, so I’m going to share those first:

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.
So You Want To Be A Writer?

Good stuff, eh?

Okay, back to the challenge – here are the rules:
1. Post on 3 consecutive days
2. Pick 1 or 3 quotes per day
3. Challenge 3 different bloggers per day
4. Thank the blogger who nominated you

As before, I’m not tagging anyone but feel free to leave quotes or notes or whatever in the comments – I’m happy to get a little chatty about Bukowski.


Love him. Such a goddamned badass.

If you haven’t read his stuff, pick up The Last Night of the Earth Poems, it’s a great intro to his magic.

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3 thoughts on “Quote Challenge – Day 2 – Charles Bukowski

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