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My Interview with Charles Bukowski, Poet, Drunk, Reprobate, Genius

I would pay a lot of money to interview the great authors of our time.  Steinbeck, Bronte, Hemingway, Austen, Twain, London, Service, John McDonald, Robert Parker.  But at the top of my bucket list would be Henry Charles Bukowski {1920-1994}.  So I asked myself would it be so very strange or inappropriate to pretend what it might have been like? Post an interview with ‘Hank’ Bukowski even though he’s been dead almost twenty years? The answer was no!

I imagined I was sitting with him, in a corner booth, in some  neighborhood watering hole.  Old die-hard drunks sit up at the bar minding their own business.   I can see tree roots growing from the seat of their pants into the seat of the bar stools. Wet, green tendrils curl around the stool legs.  They don’t speak.  They stare into their empty glass or into their own smoky reflection in the mirror on the back wall. What do they see? A long-lost heaven?  A nearby hell? 

  Bukowski has already finished his first drink and signals the bartender for another.  I am paying of course.   (viewer discretion advised ~ language)
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The Interview:

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing?

CB.  Anywhere they’ll leave me the hell alone.  I’m not particular.

Q. Do you have any special rituals when you sit down to write? 

CB.  A fifth of bourbon, a couple packs of cigarettes. Quiet. Enough paper, which can be a problem when I’m between jobs.

Q. What is your mode of writing?

CB. A pencil or pen, I don’t care.  Paper. My Remington typewriter if it’s not in pawn.  Sometimes the bartender will let me have the left over stubs of pencils from around the bar. Many years ago, this drunk in a suit was sitting next to me, over there at the bar.  He was complaining that his company had bought something called a ‘computer’ and they were making him learn how to do his sales reports on it.  He hated it but he said,  ‘I fear that it is the face of the future, Hank.’  Goddamn machines, taking over the world and us  bit by bit.  I’ll stick to my pencil and paper.

Q. Do you have a set time each day to write or do you write only when you are feeling creative?

CB.  Listen, girl,  I wish there were more times when I didn’t ‘feel creative’; didn’t need to write.  Occasionally when I’m f—ing or I’m blind drunk, or both, I can take a break and forget.

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

CB. Legitimate writers don’t procrastinate.

Q. How does a writer begin? How do you write, create?

CB. You don’t try. That’s very important: not to try, when it comes to Cadillacs, creation or immortality. You wait, and if nothing happens, you wait some more. It’s like a bug high on the wall. You wait for it to come to you. When it gets close enough you reach out, slap out and kill it. Or if you like its looks you make a pet out of it.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing and for how long?

CB. I’m lost right now.  Wait fifteen minutes…..(he stared into space) nope, still lost.  Does that answer your question?

Q. Who or what is your ‘muse’ at the moment?

famous authors, Charles Bukowski, interviews, best selling authorsA.  Ha! You’re funny.  Let’s see, junkies, slant-eyed women, barkeeps, dogs, cats, mocking birds, my landlady, bums, women….oh yeah, women most definitely.  War, rain, politicians, pigs, beautiful young girls as they walk by, Jane, the shoeshine man, booze, my father, gravediggers, whores in Mexico.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

CB. I don’t remember…a long, long time ago.

Q. How long after that were you published?

CB.  Decades.  I sent my stuff to every sex rag, publisher, and agent I could find.  It was always  rejected until one day It wasn’t.   I’d sell my blood so I could buy stamps.

Q. What makes a writer great?

CB. You can’t have rules.  No woman who is so important that she gets in your way.  No job that can keep you from what you have to do. Knowing that sometimes when you’re drunk you are a better writer.famous authors, Charles Bukowski, interviews, best selling authors

Q. ….and the all important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like? 

CB. There’s never ‘no book’ for me. It might not be down on paper yet, but it’s always there.  When my head gets so full it might explode then I find a pencil and write it down.  I don’t give a shit if a book is ‘finished’.  That’s what publishers are for.  I just send them my stuff and if they print all of it or some of it, I’m happy.  The thing that I won’t let them do is change anything.  Not a word.  It drives ’em crazy.

Q. What inspired your stories and your poetry?

CB.  Mostly the streets of L.A.  And don’t call my shit ‘poetry’. That’s what the suits call it so people will buy it.   “…my poems are only bits of scratchings on the floor of a cage…”  Mostly I just write what I see and how I feel about it.  And I see a lot of sick shit.  And I don’t feel so good about it.

    Q. Is there anything else you’d like my readers to know?

CB. Yeah, a few things:  ‘We have wasted History like a bunch of drunks shooting dice back in the men’s crapper of the local bar.’  and……

‘There will always be something to ruin our lives, it all depends on what or which finds us first. We are always ripe and ready to be taken.’  and….

‘The difference between a democracy and a dictatorship is that in a democracy you vote first and take orders later; in a dictatorship you don’t have to waste your time voting’……. and finally,

‘I don’t like jail, they got the wrong kind of bars in there.’

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MY features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months? March: Mystery (and Western) writer, Larry D. Sweazy.  April: World Traveler, Tal Gur. June: mystery author, Manning Wolfe.
                                                                                   
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Charles Bukowski…Tired and Worn Out

famous authors, Charles Bukowski, interviews, best selling authors

Bukowski’s ‘safe place’ when it just became too much

You Get So Alone at Times that it Just Makes Sense’    While I find everything Bukowski writes has something in it for me this collection has a different ‘feel’.   More down, more depressed, more complaining.  Not much fight left.

But since it was published later in his life, just eight short years before he died,  maybe the flavor of this book is just because he’s older, worn out, and sick.  His joints hurt, his liver is shot (probably), Jane is dead, the IRS is sending him letters informing him that interest is compounding DAILY and, worse, the horses are not paying off.

Don’t misunderstand, I love his work (how can there be any doubt if you’ve read my blog for any length of time) and I continue to be inspired by his insights about life, people, politics, writing and his razor sharp truth about HIMSELF. more »

Do YOU Learn Anything from History or Make the same Mistakes…Again?

famous quotes, famous writers, history, poetry, Bukowski, Churchill          I looked up this quote to be certain I quoted it with accuracy and low and behold!  Today is the day that Winston Churchill  (you all know how much I love him)   and Charles Bukowski (you know I am obsessed with him) meet. Considering it’s my blog I guess it was inevitable.  

Winston Churchill was one of the greatest ‘coiner of phrases’ that the world has ever seen.  He said, those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it’ back in the early 1900’s.  Not much has changed and it seems that we are, indeed, doomed to repeat and repeat.

Ironically, Bukowski wrote this prose back in the early 1950’s.  It could have been written yesterday;  we’re still at war, the politicians still suffer from the malady of greed and power. Government still disregards the weak, the old, the impoverished, the helpless……..famous quotes, famous writers, Bukowski, Churchill, famous men

putrefaction ©  (Bukowski)

of late
I’ve had this thought
that this country
has gone backwards
4 or 5 decades
and that all the
social advancement
the good feeling of
person toward
person
has been washed
away
and replaced by the same
old
bigotries.

we have
more than ever
the selfish wants of power
the disregard for the
weak
the old
the impoverished
the
helpless.

we are replacing want with
war
salvation with
slavery.

we have wasted the
gains

we have become
rapidly
less.

we have our Bomb
it is our fear
our damnation
and our
shame.

now
something so sad
has hold of us
that
the breath
leaves
and we can’t even
cry.

‘Oh no!’ you cry, ‘Trish is going all political on us’.  Not at all.  It’s still about the writing and the wordsmiths of our time.
I just found it so poignant that these two great men,  so very different in their calling and their craft would come to the same philosophical place decades apart.  One man was a great statesman, a world leader and a wordmaster at the highest level. The other man, a dissolute, drunken, promiscuous, wild genius of a writer.  One pronounced wisdom in a pedantic, clear statement, leaving nothing to interpretation or misunderstanding. The other’s rantings makes you see it, breath it, taste it, feel it.

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Start your month off right!! DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS. INTERVIEWS with best-selling AUTHORS!    “The Writer’s Corner”

In addition to my twice weekly blog I will also feature an interview with another author once a month. These authors have already responded and you can read their interviews by clicking on their name: Ann Purser, Susan Elia MacNeal,  Karen Robards, Mark Childress, Rhys Bowen, Dean Koontz, Tasha Alexander, Patrick Taylor, Sheryl Woods, Jo-Ann Mapson, Jeffrey Deaver, Cathy Lamb, Elizabeth Gilbert, Amber Winckler, Raymond Benson, Andrew Grant, Heidi Jon Schmidt, Robert McCammon, Sue Grafton, Walter Mosley, and many others.

So come along with me; we shall sneak into these writers’ special places, be a fly on the wall and watch them create!   Jeffrey Deaver was October’s author and Patrick Taylor will join us in November.  Slick mystery writer, Andrew Grant will join us this winter. Loretta Chase will be featured later this year. Raymond Benson is my January author.

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To receive my posts sign up for my blog, blogs, blogger, writer, author, playwright, books, plays,fiction  Go to the home page; On the right side you’ll see a box where you can enter your email address. Click on “join my blog”. You need to confirm in an email from ‘Writer at Play’ . Thanks!

You Don’t Have to be a Tortured, Guilt-ridden, Flagellating Soul!

writing, Dorothy Parker, famous quotes, famous authors      Dorothy Parker famously said:  “I hate writing. I enjoy having written.”

‘Don’t we all? We love the end result, the feeling of accomplishment and creative  fulfillment. But the hardest thing for most writers is the simple act of getting started. ‘ (copyblogger.com)

     ‘NO!  Not true!  Or at least that’s not how I feel about the art of writing.  I can’t wait to see where my characters will lead me.  I don’t force it.  I don’t tell myself ‘I must write today’ or ‘I must write for two hours every day’.  Sometimes I don’t write at all and sometimes (thankfully most times) I will write up to 3,000 words at one sitting.

You don’t have to be a tortured, guilt-ridden, flagellating soul.  Go to your writing as if you are meeting up with a great friend.  Go to your writing as if you are thirsty and have found a crystal clear pool of mountain water.  Go to your writing as if you are being re-united with a lost love.  Go to your writing as if it is the next breath you need.

I believe that if you dread it, procrastinate, hate it, you are writing the wrong thing.  Put it away for now.  Start something you are excited about.  Write something you love writing about.

Find that something to write that makes you ‘hate’ the time it takes to shower, eat, sleep, do errands.  You can shower, eat, sleep do errands, later.  WRITE!’  ~~ Trisha Sugarek

Joseph Johns, famous quotes, famous authors                 “It’s simple.  You just take something and do something to it, and then do something else to it.  Keep doing this, and pretty soon you’ve got something.”  ~~ Jasper Johns

 

“Nothing is exciting if you know what the outcome is going to be.”   ~~Joseph Campbellfamous quotes, famous authors,

 

“The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.”
~~
Chinese Proverb famous quotes, chinese proverb, writing

famous quotes, famous authors, Isaac Asimov  “If my doctor told me I had six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood.  I’d type a little faster.” ~~Isaac Asimov

 

 

 

 

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Tomorrow join me for Part 2 of my interview with best selling author, Caroline Leavitt
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DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS. INTERVIEWS with other best-selling AUTHORS!      A SERIES, “The Writer’s Corner”

I have had a wonderful response from other authors and will feature an interview once a month . I have invited such luminaries as: Ann Purser, Susan Elia MacNealMark Childress, Rhys Bowen, Dean Koontz, Sheryl Woods, Jo-Ann Mapson, Jeffrey Deaver, Elizabeth Gilbert, Amber Winckler, Robert McCammon, Sue Grafton, Walter Mosley, Nora Roberts, and many others.

So come along with me; we shall sneak into these writers’ special places, be a fly on the wall and watch them create!  Mark Childress was our April author.  Robert McCammon was our May writer. Caroline Leavitt is June‘s author.  July features Rhys Bowen.  Sue Grafton is August’s author and September will feature Tasha Alexander.  Slick mystery writer, Andrew Grant will join us this winter. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To receive my posts sign up for my blog, blogs, blogger, writer, author, playwright, books, plays,fiction  Go to the home page; On the right side you’ll see a box where you can enter your email address. Click on “join my blog”. You need to confirm in an email from ‘Writer at Play’ . Thanks!

You live to write, You stop! You Die!

 

famous authors, Bukowski, writers,    I have been obsessed with Charles Bukowski for weeks now.  I sort of  randomly discovered him, fell in love, ordered his book of poems, ‘The Pleasures of the Damned’ and now I’m his forever!   (March 14th)

   One day, much to my amazement, I found tucked away in my very messy bookcase, a movie based on Bukowski’s life starring Matt Dillon. I’m ashamed to say that a friend had given me the DVD as a gift and I never bothered to watch it. (in my pre-Bukowski days)  “Factotum” is a disturbing and fascinating look into Bukowski’s  early years as an alcoholic, unknown writer who was frequently homeless as he went from job to job, from bar to bar, from woman to woman,  from job to job, from bar to……

Bukowski writes about the raw, and sometimes ugly, world in which he lived.  A world that you and I may never experience, a world of the downtrodden, poor, weak, drunk, and doped up, (and what polite society would call) losers.
The saving grace of this man was the PURE TRUTH in which he wrote!  

 This book reads like an autobiography of his life…all in prose.  I was struck by this piece in particular .  Bukowski knew exactly who and what he was.

a clean, well-lighted place  ©

the old fart, he used his literary reputation
to reel them in one at a time,
each younger than the last.
he liked to meet them for luncheon and wine
and he’d talk and listen to them talk.
whatever wife or girlfriend he had at the moment
was made to understand that this sort of thing made him
feel ‘young again’.
and when the luncheons become more than luncheons
the young ladies vied to bed down with
this
literary
genius.
in between he continued to write,
and late at night in his favorite bar
he liked to talk about writing and his amorous adventures.
actually, he was just a drunk who liked young ladies,bukowski, famous authors, writers
writing itself and talking about writing.
it wasn’t a bad life.
it was certainly more interesting than what most men were doing.
at one time he was probably the most famous writer in the world.
many tried to write like he did
drink like he did
act like he did
but he was the original.
then life began to catch up with him.
he began to age quickly
his large bulk began to wither.
he was growing old before his time.
finally it got to where he couldn’t write anymore.
“it just wouldn’t come” and the psychiatrists couldn’t do anything
for him but only made it worse.
then he took his own cure, early one morning,
alone
just as his father had done
many years before.

a writer who can’t write any
more is dead
anyhow.
he knew that.
he knew that what he was killing
was already dead.

and then the criticsbukowski.   book
and the hangers-on
and the publicists
and his heirs
moved in like vultures.
*****************************************************************************************************
‘Everything you need to know about life are in these pages by Bukowski.   He knew when it was all over.  He was used up; he had given all that he could, he had nothing more to saySo he left……the screen door slapping softly shut behind him.’  ~~T.Sugarek
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Start your month off right!! DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS. INTERVIEWS with other best-selling AUTHORS!      A NEW SERIES, “The Writer’s Corner”

I have had a wonderful response from other authors and will feature an interview once a month . I have invited such luminaries as: Ann Purser, Susan Elia MacNealMark Childress, Rhys Bowen, Dean Koontz, Sheryl Woods, Jo-Ann Mapson, Jeffrey Deaver, Elizabeth Gilbert, Amber Winckler, Robert McCammon, Sue Grafton, Walter Mosley, Nora Roberts, and many others.

So come along with me; we shall sneak into these writers’ special places, be a fly on the wall and watch them create!  Mark Childress is our April author.  Robert McCammon is scheduled for May. Caroline Leavitt is June‘s author.  July features Rhys Bowen.  Sue Grafton is August’s author and September will feature Tasha Alexander. Slick mystery writer, Andrew Grant will join us this winter.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To receive my posts sign up for my blog, blogs, blogger, writer, author, playwright, books, plays,fiction  Go to the home page; On the right side you’ll see a box where you can enter your email address. Click on “join my blog”. You need to confirm in an email from ‘Writer at Play’ . Thanks!

Do You Doubt Yourself?….Your Writing?

famous authors, writers,          I ran across a description of one of my enemies….DOUBT!  Author, Jacqueline Winspear wrote: “Doubt. Was it an emotion? A sense? Or was it just a short stubby word to describe a response that could diminish a person in a finger snap?”

I wrote earlier about my being in good company.  Regardless if we writers are obscure or famous, we all doubt ourselves and our work.  What if Henry Charles Bukowski, or Ernest Hemingway, or John Steinbeck had let DOUBT win?  Put away their pen, dumped their scribbles into a shoe box and made a trip to the attic, got a day job and never wrote another word?   It doesn’t bear thinking about.

famous authors, writers, famous quotesJ. Michael Straczynski:  “When in ‘doubt’, blow something up.”

 

 

famous authors, famous quotes, writers
F.Scott Fitzgerald:   “All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.”

 

 

famous authors, famous quotesE.M. Forster:  “How do I know what I think until I see what I say?”

 

 

 

Tapani Bagge:  “Everything that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  auithors, famous quotes, writersAnd later on you can use it in some story.”

 

 
Maya Angelou:  “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”poet, poetry, famous quotes, famous authors

 

 

 

 

authors, famous quotes, writersElinor Lipman:  “Critics have been described as people who go into the street after battle and shoot the wounded.”

 

writers, authors, famous quotes

 

Leo Rosten:  “The only reason for being a professional writer is that  you just can’t help it.”

 

 

Let’s see …..when were my worst moments?  DOUBT clawing at me, whispering in my ear, crawling up my spine.  Telling me that I’ll never make it, I’ll never finish a whole novel, that I don’t know the first thing about writing poetry.  Writing play scripts was relatively easy for me. After all I had been in theatre reading scripts for over thirty years.  And the stories simply fell out of the sky and into my brain when writing a script.

When I could no longer resist the urgency of writing about the women who wait outside prison walls, I researched the length of the average novel; number of pages and words.  Yikes!  Over 300 pages and 70,000 words.  DOUBT was screaming in my ear: ‘you’ll never be able to write that many pages.’  ‘you’re a playwright; not a novelist’, ‘who do you think you’re kidding?’  But I had a true story (several of them, in fact) and all I needed to do was flesh those stories out.  Write one page at a time.
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Start your month off right!! DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS. INTERVIEWS with other best-selling AUTHORS!      A NEW SERIES, “The Writer’s Corner”

I have had a wonderful response from other authors and plan on featuring an interview once a month . I have invited such luminaries as: Ann Purser, Susan Elia MacNeal, Maya Angelou, Mark Childress, Rhys Bowen, Sue Grafton, Dean Koontz, Sheryl Woods, Jo-Ann Mapson, Jeffrey Deaver, Elizabeth Gilbert, Amber Winckler, Robert McCammon, Walter Mosley, Nora Roberts, and many others.

So come along with me; we shall sneak into these writers’ special places, be a fly on the wall and watch them create!  Mark Childress is our April author.  Robert McCammon is scheduled for May. Caroline Leavitt is June’s author.  July features Rhys Bowen.  Sue Grafton is August’s author and September will feature Tasha Alexander.
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To receive my posts sign up for my blog, blogs, blogger, writer, author, playwright, books, plays,fiction  Go to the home page; On the right side you’ll see a box where you can enter your email address. Click on “join my blog”. You need to confirm in an email from ‘Writer at Play’ . Thanks!