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Red Clay and Bukowski are better artists than you

June 25, 2009


If you don’t have to make art, don’t.  This shit is difficult and the hourly pay sucks.

I remember when I was in college one of my poetry profs would regularly deliver the one two reality punch of encouraging students  to write as much as possible, right before stressing that you should only make it a career if you had no choice.   The ones that had no choice knew who they were.  We were the ones with that far off look in our eyes and wandering gaze, the ones who walked into class on clouds and talked sestinas and sentence structure till 3 in the morning clutching a jug of wine and chain smoking hand rolled cigarrettes.  We’re all broke now.

But of course, it’s what we do.  No regrets over here.  Especially when you run across a work that changes the way you look at life, offers a new vantage point, or gives you hope regarldless of the stupid shit that happens on the day to day.  There’s that old saying that “hearts speak to each other” and while I’m not ready to get on The Secret Metaphysical, I do believe that you can spot a true artist a mile away, someone who does it because they have to, cuz there is no other option.  Who, even if they were down to their last dime, dumpster diving they’d find a top to bang on, a pencil to write with or a song to sing.

Click to listen: Snap aka Red Clay-Like I Do

Red Clay aka Snap is one of those artists.  I’ve been bumping dude’s mixtape steadily for the last couple of weeks and you can tell that deal or no deal, hype or no hype, dude is gonna rap like his life depended on it.  It probably does.  And while I love concepts and ideas and all that,  I still think that the best Art is the stuff you can’t help but create, the stuff that claws up out of your chest and out into the world.

Or as every poet’s favorite drunk uncle says “unless the sun inside you is burning your gut” you might want to think twice about that whole working artist thing.

So You Want To Be A Writer

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
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.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
forget about it.
if you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
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

Dowload Red Clay’s mixtape, Snappage:

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 25, 2009 2:58 pm

    Bukowski was so honest and brutal in that poem. Sage advice indeed.
    Peace and many words…..

    • Boothism permalink*
      June 25, 2009 4:09 pm

      When I 1st read it I just thought it was that macho Buck bravado, but the more I write, the more this piece rings true. Thanks for reading.

  2. 47whitebuffalo permalink
    June 25, 2009 3:18 pm

    and then there is the pure joy of writing/creating—with words or ink or film…yes, JOY!
    I’ll go with the guts stuff only so far—but I am damn sick and tired of suffering suffering ‘artists’ of all sorts—is there no JOY in what we do?
    consider this–Hemmingway blew his head off cause he had OTHER issues than with his ‘art’–art didn’t kill him–his baggage did. That’s ‘my’ perspective anyway….

    • Boothism permalink*
      June 25, 2009 4:15 pm

      Very true, there’s a lot of joy, but we also write out of need. For me personally, if I don’t write for a while I get cranky, irritable and can’t think things through clearly-not a good space to be in. So there’s a lot of joy in it, but I liken it to breathing. I enjoy breathing-air is pretty cool. But without it I’m kaput, so it falls into the need category. Same as writing for me.

      And contrary to my bank statements, I’m not keen on the starving artist thing either. Most of the artists I know are just bad business people and some, like you said, have a lot of other issues. Thanks for checking the blog, let’s keep the word up and the shotguns away…

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