Bukowskian inspirationIn About freelance writing
I love Open Culture: free stuff that’s also legal.
And because I love Open Culture this little gem popped into my inbox: Charles Bukowski on writing and poetry. To paraphrase the post on OC (and on The Dish), which should be read for the full explanation, this is Bukowski’s philosophy on writing, and the context to his epitaph “Don’t Try”:
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.
Later, the poem continues:
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.
Obviously Bukowski is an untouchably great writer, an artist and a poet. I’m a commercial writer. There is no comparison. For a start, I do do it for money – albeit not women. I am not chosen: and it would be horribly pretentious of me to even hint at any equivalence.
But anyone who writes for a living will be familiar with the feeling of staring at a computer screen or hunching over a typewriter (well, a keyboard at least) and willing some words – any words – to appear from the woodwork and arrange themselves in a sensible fashion before the desperation of a deadline takes over.
Being reminded of this poem this week has been rather timely. I just wrote a post about the joys of working at home, and why I don’t miss the water cooler: what I didn’t mention is that being in an office gives you limited opportunities to deal with the horror that is writers’ block. We all get it on occasion, the writing yips that turn every sentence to lead and scramble words into linguistic spaghetti. That’s when the screen staring and type-writer hunching starts.
On the occasions where inspiration is in short supply and waiting to be chosen isn’t an option, I find that dancing round the house to Motorhead has a therapeutic effect (Lemmy!!!). As does a walk in the fields behind the house. Or going for a zen-like swim. Or reading the papers. Or preparing a curry. Or working to midnight. Or starting at four. Or just staring into space. When it’s really bad, a Laphraoig will work wonders (just the one, obviously). Talking about it almost never does.
Thing is, you can’t do any of those in the office. Or rather, you can’t do any of those in the office and stay gainfully employed. So, for those of us who do, on occasion, have to try, working from the home is the way forward. It’s got to be better than hunching.