Some quotes I underline of “On Writing” by Charles Bukowski edited by Abel Debritto.


“I’d always had the idea that I could write anything I wanted, and, if it was good enough it’d get in there.”

“And honest writer is in a hell of a hole.”

“People buy new cars and nothing else. That’s their life: four wheels.

“And short stories: there’s nothing: no life.”

“This is what I have learned: that there are so many, many writers writing that can’t write at all, and they keep right on writing all the clichés and bromides.”

“There’s music in everything.”

“But primarly Art is its own excuse, and it’s either Art or it’s something else. It’s either a poem or a piece of cheese.”

“A man’s soul or lack of it will be evident with what he can carve upon a white sheet of paper.”

“It is possible to be “conservative” and still publish good poetry.”

“Show me an old poet and I’ll show you, more often than not, either a madman or a master.”

“I far more appreciate criticism than “sorry or “no” or “overstocked”.”

“Art is Art and Art should be it’s own hammer.”

“The politicians and newspapers talk a lot about freedom but the moment you begin to apply any, either Life or in the Art-form, you are in for a cell, ridicule or misunderstanding.”

“Fame or immortality will not be mine.”

“There is only one thng or 2 an artist can do: go on writing or stop writing.”

“I can toss vocabulary like torn-up mutual tickets, but I think eventually the words that will be saved are the small stone-like words that are said and meant. When men really mean something they don’t say it in 14 letter words.”

“It’s true that when you go back far enough things become more simple and clear and good because maybe that’s what was saved, maybe that’s all the years could stand, or maybe they were better men then, maybe all the heavy false creamy 18th and 19th century part was a reaction to truth, men get tired of truth just as they get tired of evil, but who knows.”

“Writing is a damn funny game. Rejection helps because it makes you write better; acceptance helps because it keeps you writing.”

“It’s hell to be poor, that’s no secret; it’s hell to be sick without money, hungry without money; it’s hell to be sick and hungry forever down to the last day.”

“Writing is like most writers think fucking is: just when they start thinking they are doing pretty good they stop doing it altogether.”

“Now I don’t know what I’m talking about anymore. That’s the danger of talking. You talk talk talk all wax and wallow and pretty soon you don’t know what you are saying… I don’t… that’s why I feel much better when I am mostly quiet.”

“The difference being that if you are a loner and nobody, you are a nut: if you are a loner and a little known, then you are a snob.”

“I don’t have the guts to write a novel for fear I’d put half my life into it an then it would lay in a drawer without legs.”

“The last poem on the day I write wil be the poem I need to write then. I allow myself this freedom.”

“I was always basically a ‘loner.’ there are people like that, either from nature or psychosis or whatever who are in agony in crowd and feel better alone. YOU MUST LOVE is prettu much the thing now, and I think that when love becomes a command, hatred becomes a pleasure.”

“if the world changes at all it wil be because the poor are fucking too much and that there are too many fucking poor and the few rich power boys will get scared because if you get enough poor and they are por enough not all the propaganda newspapers in the world will be able to tell them how lucky they are and that poverty is holy and that starvation is good for the soul. if these people have the vote, things are going to change and if they don’t have the vote riots are goint to get bigger redder hotter heller.”

“The gods have blessed me by not making me famous.”

“it taught me that everything is nothing and that nothing is everything and that you still have to lace your shoes it you have shoes and make your own magic if there is any to be made.”

“perhaps the truly good men have not yet arrived.”

“The main problem, so far, has been that there has been quite a difference between literature and life, and that those who have been writing literature have not been writing life, and those living life have been excluded from literature.”

“You know that in former years I’ve lived off of less, much less. I haven’t complained about this because I am crazy enough to just want to sit down to a typewriter and write.”

“Your writing helped my life, game me real hope that a man could just put the words down and let the emotions ride out.”

“I’ve found that the least talented scream the loudest, are the most abusive and the most self-assured.”

“Bad editors will continue to edit and bad writiers will continues to write. […] What little good writing does come out is largely accidental, or a mathematical rarity: when good writer knocks into a good editor.”

“Very successful writers are like presidents: they get the vote because maddind crowd recognizes something of itself in them.”

“A writer is only looked at as a guy who puts words down on paper.”

“I think the main thing the new ones lack is the grand eternal style, a method of approach, a method of battling pain and success.”

“My idea of a writer is somebody who writes. Who sits at a typewriter and puts the words down.”

“When luck comes your way you can’t let it Swallow you.”

“If there are any good writers, I don’t think these writers go around, walk around, talk around, abound, thinking, “I am a writer.” They live because there’s nothing else to do.”

“Most drunks I’ve known aren’t very interesting at all. Of course, most sober people aren’t either.”

“On drugs, I’ve used them, of course, but laid off. Grass destroys motivation and always makes you late with no place to go.”

“The only thing I could tell most people about writing is, DON’T. It’s all over-polluted now…”

“In my work, as a writer, I only photograph, in words, what I see.”

“My days, my years, my life have seen ups and downs, lights and darkness. If I wrote only and continually of the ‘light’ and never mentioned the other, then as an artist I would be a liar.”

“Censorship is the tool of those who have the need to hide actualities from themselves and from others. Their fear is only their inability to face what is real.”

“And I wrote and wrote and wrote, I loved the banging of the typer.”

“Frankly, I loved to write! THE SOUND OF THE TYPER. Sometimes I think it was only the sound of the typer what I wanted.”

“It wasn’t so much that I was TRYING to be a writer, it was more like doing something that felt good to do.”

“Writing is only the result of what we have become day by day over the years.”

“The only writers who write well are those who must write in order not to go mad.”

“Sometimes I’ve called writing a disease. If so, I’m glad that it caught me.”

“I know what you mean about writing and writers. We seem to have lost the target. Writers seem to write to be known as writers. They don’t write because somehting is driving them toward the edge.”

“A writer is not a writer because he teaches literature. A writer is only a writer if he can write now, tonight, this minute.”

“My writing, although simple in its way, is always guided by music because I listen as I write, and, of course, there’s the dear old bottle.”

“When everything works best it’s not because you chose writing but because writing chose you.”

“I jeep getting this feeling that I am a beginning writer. The old excitement and wonder are there… It’s a great madness. I think too many writers, after they have been in the game for some time, get too practiced, too carefull. They are afraid to make mistakes.”

“I can feel the words biting into the paper, it’s as needed as ever […] Writing has saved me from madhouse, from murder and suicide. I still need it. Now. Tomorrow. Until the last breath.”

“Being 72 is another adventure.”

“I never thought I’d be here now and when I go, i’ll be ready.”

“The words are forming and churning, spinning and flying for me. The older I get, the more this magic madness seems to fall upon me.”

NOTE: Please let me know if you read this. Thank you.



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