Writing in Steps

As the last drops of alcohol trickled down my throat I put down another one of Bukowski’s books.

It was yet another quiet and lonely night I had spent with this great man’s thoughts and some of his best quotes.

In moments of insecurity and indecision I often turned to the greats for inspiration or answers. The Bukowskis, Fantes, Hemingways, Faulkners have all had their say and their thoughts still grow louder with each passing day.

You see, it’s only natural for any self-doubting writer to turn to these people and try to grasp some of their wisdom – after all, art always begins with imitation.

Whether it’s poetry, music, sculpture, painting or any other form, we always turn to those that paved the way before us for guidance.

That’s why they’re called the greats; for taking that elusive step when nobody else believed it existed.

But it’s good to remember that even the greats don’t have all the answers; sure, they are pioneers in their fields and geniuses in the vast world of art, but that doesn’t make what they said final or complete.

There is still so much to be said regarding this hell of a world we live in – so much to observe and proclaim and tear down and preach about.

Imitating the greats is only the first step in an artist’s journey. And sometimes, many of us forget that the true meaning of art is eventually finding our own voice and speaking our own thoughts until they turn to vociferous shrieks that will ride someone else’s mind and drive them to complete insanity or inspiration.

It’s good to remember that every once in a while.

Another thing: many people think that the purpose of art is to enhance things like beauty and love and romance and hope and courage.

That’s not what art is about.

Art wasn’t created to service those things.

Art is grief. Art is longing. Art is mourning. Art appears in those things which weaken us and tear us apart.

And it is in those moments of weakness – whether you’ve spent your night thinking about your girlfriend at a whorehouse or drinking all alone in your basement – that art comes bursting out of you.

Poetry – beautiful bleeding loud poetry – comes shooting out of your gut and breaks free.

Heavenly orgasmic words to heal the soul. Enchanting music to spark new life. Vivid colors and images that draw new meanings.

The end of life is only the beginning of art. And the end of art lies where there are no boundaries – where the land is never too afraid to meld with the ocean and the mountains are never too low to touch the sky.

That is the purpose of art. That is the reason for staying up late just hoping to finish writing those few pages when everybody else is fast asleep.

That is the reason why so many people are broken – and why they never want to be fixed.

In the remaining quiet minutes before sunrise I reminded myself of all the times people used to tell me I was caught in a cycle of depression that would eventually drive me to the grave. And then I felt glad for not listening to them and not letting them take that away from me.

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