This is not the first time in the last few weeks that I’ve sat staring at this:
Whenever I’m at a loss for words, I think of Charles Bukowski. He rarely had that problem. He wrote every damn day. There’s so much Bukowski in the world that I can never collect it all, but I have a lot of it. I’m not sure how many of his books I have, but it’s one entire shelf including the sides.
A lot of them are Black Sparrow Press–Bukowski’s publisher before John Martin retired. Not that I particularly care about their collectability, since I would never sell them and I’m not sure that a well-loved Black Sparrow Press printing is worth anything anyway.
When I was younger, I used to dismiss Bukowski’s prolificness with: yeah, but he didn’t start writing until he was middle aged. When I’m old, I’ll have lots of things to say. I’ll never run out of words… if I live that long.
Now that I’m old and still have nothing to say, I dismiss it with day jobs and lack of booze. Yeah, well, if I didn’t really work and drank every day, I could write every day, too. Look at Hemingway. He drank and wrote and fished. Bukowski drank and wrote and gambled and womanized. They have words and booze in common.
But, I’ll never be a Hemingway or a Bukowski; I’m just not built that way. When I was young, that would have made me sad and spitefully inspired, but when I was young, I didn’t think of myself as a writer anyway. I was going to be an artist.
I became an artist. I am an Art Director by trade and I have a shop that sells at least one of my little arty things per week. I am a professional artist in a very literal sense, though I don’t feel like much of one. My art isn’t particularly inspired, so says the part of me that thinks a duck isn’t art, which if we’re being honest, is a rather large part.
The older I get, the more the words call to me. The more I want a finished work of fiction under my belt. The more I want to take a picture of my own words sitting on a shelf. I want to be a writer. Not for fortune or glory, but for self-satisfaction and legacy. I want a book with my name (most likely, a fake one) on it that will exist in corporeal form long after I do not. Not a children’s book (which I’ve written) or an autobiography (which I’ve also written), but a genuine, honest to goats work of fiction. A fictional story with a beginning, end and a middle in-between. I’ve got the beginning and even the end, but the middle is proving to be a tad tricky.
I probably shouldn’t be so greedy. I’m already a professional artist. Should I really aspire to be a professional writer, too? Fuck greed. Yes. I should. However, in order to be a professional writer, I would imagine that one needs to actually, you know, write something, which I haven’t in a while.
There’s a lot of truth in the adage use it or lose it. Unlike riding a bike, there’s no muscle memory for writing. Since I don’t blog anymore, I don’t write. One segues into the other. Blogging is a gateway drug and I’ve inadvertently gone cold turkey.
Whenever I’m stuck, Bukowski’s words subconsciously come floating up to the surface.
“Never look at what you flush away.”
“You have to die a few times before you can really live.”
“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.”
“I’ve had so many knives stuck into me, when they hand me a flower, I can’t quite make out what it is. It takes time.”
“Writers are desperate people and when they stop being desperate they stop being writers.”
“Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all.”