Saturday, May 16, 2015

Blame it on Bukowski...

(photo off the web, obviously)

I know I made a deal to write every week. But then Bukowski put me off. He said that if you have to sit for hours hunched over your desk or your typewriter, don’t do it. The words should come flying out, like birds. If they don’t, don’t do it.

So, I’m listening to him. I won’t. Until the words come tumbling out, all enthusiastically, crowding to escape, be the first in line, to roost idly, perfectly and beautifully on the page, I won't. I'm collecting them, the rare ones, like Narina Trogons and Angola Pittas. Angola Pittas are magnificent. There used to be one on the front of Newman's Birds Of Southern Africa. I see it has been rudely replaced by a lourie... I have never seen a Pitta in real life. I remember Norman once found one in Luangwa (they are migrants and pop in for visits) one rainy season and he wouldn't tell any of us where it was in case we scared it away and then it would never ever come back again.

Until then, until I have gathered enough beauties fluttering around in the cage of my mind, bending the bars of my head to fly free, I shall leave you with Bukowski's poem So You Want To Be A Writer. I think he's absolutely right.

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


donna baker said...

Janelle, his words are very wise indeed. I went through the whole novel bit and all that it encompassed. It was all consuming; nothing else could get accomplished and I am too curious a person to do only one thing.

family Affairs said...

OMG I LOVE THAT! Can I put that on my blog pleeease??? So true. Good and bad - makes me want to write wild bad things (which I can't)....tee hee. Lxx

family Affairs said...

I just had to select images with cake on to get past the robot. Good grief.

family Affairs said...

...and now pasta or noodles and the pictures are so bad I can barely tell the difference between pasta and cake. Can't believe I got through. Won't be back to update you on what I have to choose to get this one approved! Lx

family Affairs said...


this is absurd.

Right. going now.

Mark said...

Catching up with you over the last six months, apologies...interesting six months. You never disappoint, my sympathies, joy, tears and congratulations. First nephew is getting married in Turin otherwise a business trip to Nairobi in 3 weeks would've spawned a road trip to deliver Aerobar, merlot, hugs and a break from the wishes.
Be good to yourself.

tut-tut said...

Hadn't thought about him in a long time

LeeAnn at Mrs Black's said...

This is wonderful. And I agree. I'd rather go for a walk than squeeze words out which are not inspired. x

Amanda Summer said...

F*&king beautiful.