Don’t Try

Once upon a time, I came across an intensely moving quote:

Don’t try, do. Because if you’re spending your time trying something, you’re not doing it… DON’T TRY.

–          Linda Bukowski (Charles Bukowski’s wife)

That created great curiosity in me about who Charles Bukowski is.

This is what I discovered – he is Heinrich Karl Bukowski (Hank – August 16, 1920, to March 9, 1994); he was a German-born American poet, novelist, and short story writer. Moreover, his story is of ‘from rags to riches’, like J.K. Rowling. The epitaph of ‘Don’t Try’ on his tombstone added fuel to fire. Such ridiculous advice to creators, I thought. Those two words puzzled me. I wondered what could have been the message behind this pessimistic remark. It made me dig some more.

In an interview conducted with the late poet’s wife (mentioned above), a light was shed on the lasting mystery. It was actually intended to encircle the author’s philosophy on life and writing. Its origins can be found in several of Bukowski’s letters he wrote to friends, in which he discusses the secret of a successful story. In the following passage, Bukowski clearly reveals his thoughts on the creative process.

“What do you do? How do you write, create? You don’t try. That’s very important: ‘not’ to try, either for 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. We work too hard. We try too hard. Don’t try. Don’t work. It’s there. It’s been looking right at us, aching to kick out of the closed womb. There’s been too much direction. It’s all free, we needn’t be told. Classes? Classes are for asses. Writing a poem is as easy as beating your meat or drinking a bottle of beer.”


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