(photo credit Largo Poet)
“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery–isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.”
— Charles Bukowski (Factotum)
I was bored tonight. So I opened Stumble and clicked the big green button. And I stumbled across a bunch of Bukowski quotes. And I just couldn’t stop reading them. Truth after truth after truth.
I posted the one above up on Facebook and tagged my friend. She put another poem up and then another quote and we went back and forth for a while, commenting, posting these quotes, talking about them.
This is what life is about. Sharing whispered truths stolen from artists.
(photo credit Rennett Stowe)
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a poet, what it means to be a musician, and I came to the conclusion that for me, creation is life.
“Anything is a waste of time unless you are fucking well or creating well or getting well or looming toward a kind of phantom-love-happiness.”
— Charles Bukowski
Kind of what he said, but kind of also a little bit of, “But why?”
Recently, I decided that the why isn’t necessarily as important as the actually getting out there and doing it is. Sometimes, like my dad said to me recently, it takes a while to find your calling.
And your audience. Who is my audience? On my desk, I wrote this, to remind myself of why I create music and poetry when it doesn’t pay the bills and it’s so much solitude and frustration and working in the dark and late into the night when you’re already worn out from making ends meet: I write music and poetry about misfits, about alienation, about betrayal, about the vibrant loves and intrigues, the sparks that lit up the scene. I write to ignite the spark waiting to be lit in others, because maybe if I write, someone, somewhere might not feel so alone.
(photo credit epsos)
Maybe I’m telling their story. Maybe telling mine helps them tell theirs.
That feeling you get, when you read something you love and feel jealous of at the same time, when you say to yourself, “That bitch! She totally just captured what I have been meaning to capture forever and she did it well!”
That feeling is great.
Use it to spark the fire in yourself to create more work. Listen to the music that moves you and makes you green with envy. Read the poets who make you fall on your knees. And then regurgitate that through your own crazy lens and spew out a scope of work you can pull from to create whatever the frickin’ frack you were created to make.
Because if you don’t it’s you that loses you. And others lose the spark they might have gotten from you.
A lady I knew once always told me it was selfish of me to not share my singing with other people. I psshhed her and decided that was BS, I could share if I wanted to share. And I just didn’t want to anymore.
“We are like roses that have never bothered to bloom when we should have bloomed and it is as if the sun has become disgusted with waiting”
— Charles Bukowski
The sun might not wait. In my own case, I had a dream once, when I was a little 19-year-old, and I put it away, because I let other people convince me it was stupid. Then I took it out only in the privacy of my own room. And I shared it fleetingly over the years. And then, when I cleared out all the distractions (bitterness, potions, bad behavior) it came back to me and said, “Hey. Remember me? I’m still waiting for you here.”
So I pulled out the old journals, the tape recordings of my songs, the memories, dusted off the keyboard and decided to pick up where I left off. Ten years later. Ten. Years. Later.
I was reading a little about Bukowski’s life. He was published in two places by the time he was 24, but had a hard time breaking into the literary world (don’t we know that drill). From Wiki: “Failing to break into the literary world, Bukowski grew disillusioned with the publication process and quit writing for almost a decade, a time that he referred to as a “ten-year drunk.”
Although I have so many regrets and fears and reservations about the time I may have squandered, I did learn a few little things in those years.
It doesn’t matter what your brain says. Do what you were meant to do anyways. Your brain will talk shit the whole time, but you will still succeed.
Depression can be an excuse to keep from moving forward. Don’t let it mire you. Punch it in the face.
Contemplating the meaning of things can keep you from actually doing them. Don’t stop too long to philosophize unless it contributes to your motion.
Other people will know you are passionate, they will know you are honest, they will catch on…if you persist. Not all of them. But the ones who matter.
(credit DC John)
This is what many poets and musicians and writers do: Try to inspire others to ignite, even though they’re shouting from a gutter or a dim-lit alleyway.
They ignore the assholes who try to pull them down and they keep on keeping on in the wee hours of the night, chipping away at something that for whatever reason gnaws inside their brains to get out on the page or into a recording.
They don’t give up on this little spark. They blow on it. It ignites. A whole line of other sparks waiting to be lit can now ignite. And they enjoy the motion. The act of doing. That moment when they hear their own song or read their own poem and think, “I got it. That hits just right.” And then they send it out into the world and a few or more people concur, “Hey, she got it just right. I appreciate this.” And maybe their readers take out their own little scrap of paper with scribbled words that caught them at just the right moment and start to play around with them. And somehow, through these words, they convey a little part of a universal truth, something we all are.
Never underestimate your power. People don’t often share what’s on their minds, or what inspires or influences them. But things do (and you do), regardless.
(Photo credit Luckylynda74)
“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.”
— Charles Bukowski