After rereading some Charles Bukowski, the ugly bard from the streets of Los Angeles (1920-94) and his famous quotes; I wanted to make something of a statement, myself, about poetry/ writing/ publishing… and all the rest of it.
I prefer to sit at my coffee-time dreaming of somewhere else, to be someone else – because there is no writing persona and it’s not normally a useful activity.
But, no, I don’t want to meet-up with other writers, not even famous ones (unless I’m getting a leg- up) – because a lot of writing material is from a personal source – not to be passed round like teenage boasts. I find it degrading to sit around with coffee or drink and rubbish nibbles/tit-bits in a smoky backroom corner, to glance at others, thinking to make friends or useful contacts (like in business).
Bukowski refers to the great ‘whore’ of writing and there is something to this – because writing fiction and poetry is peddling something good and beautiful (language) in a way that is not practical or necessarily respectable — it is peddled for pleasure, my own pleasure and maybe for others. Salons for writers are more like ante-rooms in a whore house; where people with various grades of interest gather for another ‘go’ at language, or sidle-up to any celebrity who might appear to help. There’s lots of impotency about, flaccid ideas/talk; yet these same folk look to the ones who seem to have it – the daring, ego and conceit, desperation and hubris, to grasp at that nettle one more time…
‘I don’t write for money’, I say, ‘nothing like that, of course not’. But show me a story of big advances from publishers, how popular authors get rich an-famous and I will devour the copy like a college course. I have sworn to pursue ‘real love and beauty, truth’… but show me a literary prize, royalties and select invites; I will forget my vows, my promises and follow the greedy phonies right out the door…
Of course, there’s the idea of truth at stake, love-an-romance for the masses, humour and insight into our human situation – but not without a lot of hypocrisy and deceit, avarice and jealousy, ambition and treachery. You must have seen it, even in the minutia…?
‘There is no competition, except against myself’ I said; ‘no winners or losers, don’t you know’. But when I seek out comments upon my efforts, then I want a grade: ‘seven out of ten’ she says, ‘there’s a few errors in the text’. I want to rise above my pals and acquaintances, be seen ahead of my colleagues and to stand alone on a pedestal up high…
At work, on the street, at home, inside church – I’m a decent sort of guy who tries to say-an-do the right thing. But with my own submissions (writing) I desire to excel above others, to gain acclaim, prestige – and money. Someone once said to me, ‘I’m going to get you a nice piece of paper, heavy and tinted, water-marked and type your name all over the page; that’s what you want isn’t it’? Of course, I railed against this, strongly. But the idea is there, it has been out there since the beginning, when I first sent an awful bit of verse to a ‘little’ magazine. ‘Self-interest’ is an unseen hand in the economy, wrote Adam Smith and looks like it also drives the creative spirit.
Read Another Useful Blog: The Big Question