“I worked as a common laborer until I was 50. I was jammed in with the people. Now I am not saying that working for a living is a grand thing. In most cases it is a horrible thing. And often you must fight to keep a horrible job because there are 25 guys standing behind you ready to take the same job. Of course, it’s senseless, of course it flattens you out. But being in that mess, I think, taught me to lay off the bullshit when I did write. I think you have to get your face in the mud now and then. I think you have to know what a jail is, a hospital is. I think you have to know what it feels like to go without food for 4 or 5 days. I think that living with insane women is good for the backbone.
I think you can write with joy and release after you’ve been in a vise.”
I’ve read a few of Bukowski’s novels, and now I’m reading a book he put together of his ramblings. His novels and poetry are gritty and raunchy, but so very real in how he presents it. This book of ramblings is set up like a blog. It was written in 1991-92-93, well before blogs were a thing with short, dated pieces of his thoughts on everything from authors and poets drinking till the wee hours on his couch, to going to the horse track and sharing lunch with his wife. He was in his 70’s when he wrote it but he still wrote with the same tough, truthful style.
I liked this piece because it speaks to the despair inside all of us. In only these few words he is able to speak of a life time of work and suffering and how he put it into his writing each evening. To me that is how it’s done. With courage.