Dear Dr. Boli: I always wanted to be a writer, and I’ve been reading quotations from famous writers to inspire me. Like I just came across this one from some guy who was, like, a writer, I think.
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.
——Charles Bukowski, So You Want to Be a Writer.
So I wanted to know if this is like good advice, or what? —Sincerely, Olivia, Mr. Cramer’s 10th-Grade Creative-Writing Class.
Dear Miss: Professional writers often give advice like this to aspiring writers. You must be sincere above all, they say. Every word must force itself out of the depths of your soul, and you must never set pen to paper, or finger to keyboard, until you cannot bear to keep silent. Professional writers give you advice like this because they know that, if you follow it, you will never be a professional writer, and thus their competition will be reduced in the marketplace. Professional writers can be very devious.