Now more than ever, there’s tremendous pressure to make it big while you’re young.
Pity the 31-year-old who fails to make it onto a 30-under-30 list…
The soon-to-graduate high schooler passed over for YouTube stardom…
The great hordes who creep into middle age without so much as a TED Talk to their names…
Social media definitely magnifies the sensation that an unacceptable number of our peers have been granted first-class cabins aboard a ship that’s sailed without us. If we weren’t so demoralized, we’d sue Instagram for creating the impression that everyone else’s #VanLife is leading to book deals and profiles in The New Yorker.
Don’t despair, dear reader. Charles Bukowski is about to make your day from beyond the grave.
In 1993, at the age of 73, the late writer and self-described “spoiled old toad,” took a break from recording the audiobook of Run With the Hunted to reflect upon his “crappy” life.
Some of these thoughts made it into Drew Christie’s animation, above, a reminder that the smoothest road isn’t always necessarily the richest one.
In service of his ill-paying muse, Bukowski logged decades in unglamorous jobs ---dishwasher, truckdriver and loader, gas station attendant, stock boy, warehouseman, shipping clerk, parking lot attendant, Red Cross orderly, elevator operator, and most notoriously, postal carrier and clerk. These gigs gave him plenty of material, the sort of real world experience that eludes those upon whom literary fame and fortune smiles early.
(His alcoholic misadventures provided yet more material, earning him such honorifics as the ”poet laureate of L.A. lowlife" and "enfant terrible of the Meat School poets.”)
One might also take comfort in hearing a writer as prodigious as Bukowski revealing that he didn’t hold himself to the sort of daily writing regimen that can be difficult to achieve when one is juggling day jobs, student loans, and/or a family. Also appreciated is the far-from-cursory nod he accords the therapeutic benefits that are available to all those who write, regardless of any public or financial recognition:
Three or four nights out of seven. If I don’t get those in, I don’t act right. I feel sick. I get very depressed. It’s a release. It’s my psychiatrist, letting this shit out. I’m lucky I get paid for it. I’d do it for nothing. In fact, I’d pay to do it. Here, I’ll give you ten thousand a year if you’ll let me write.