Some authors become victims of their own caricatures, regardless of talent. So Hemingway is made the symbol of virile and manly artistry, Proust a languid dabbler, and so on.
Charles Bukowski was no different; and in some ways it was his fault. He is most remembered today as a kind of artful stewbum, churning out novels and poems even while drinking his way to the bottom of every bottle that came his way. His writing was well marinated in the last-call remnants of his alcoholic escapades.
Nevertheless, the man could knock out a killer line. And he wasn’t some natural, banging away at the keys like he was transmitting a message from the beyond. Like the best writers, Bukowski was fluid but aware. He knew he could write. And he could tell you how.
In the collection On Writing, Bukowski provides a glimpse of the method behind the madness, particularly as it relates to the rules (of grammar and other) that he never found much need for:
I didn’t pay a hell of a lot of attention to grammar, and when I write it is for the love of the word, the color, like tossing paint on a canvas, and using a lot of ear and having read a bit here and there, I generally come out ok, but technically I don’t know what’s happening, nor do I care.
… the very feeling of a good poem carries its own reason for being… 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.
The sanctuary of the rule means nothing to the pure creator …
(h/t: Brain Pickings)
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