Author J.A. Carter-Winward, Author/Poet J.A. Carter-Winward, Cliches, Tropes, and Just...No., From JACW's collection, Human Nature, the Psyche, Life, Performance Poetry, Personal, Poetry by J.A. Carter-Winward, Poets, Rude words, The Word, Writers, Writing, Writing Community, Writing in Blood, Writing Life, Writing Process

so, if you want to be a writer… a poem for the Millennium



so, if you want to be a writer…

                               a poem for the Millennium
–after Charles Bukowski

if you need to see your words in a box
on a lit screen
don’t do it.
if you need the virtual applause
from friends and followers to feel your muse,
don’t do it.

if you tell yourself you sit for hours
on social media, wikipedia, delving deep into the
deep ether to find inspiration or motivation,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for fame or money,
remember, they are a virus that spoils
what was once pure—don’t allow that.
don’t do it.

if you do it for the title writer
and have the mug and matching pens,
and spend precious word-smith time fashioning
an image you wish the world would see or
you hope you’ll one day, deep down, be,
you are playing pretend with the
power of the word, the pen,
don’t do it.

if you find you must delete posts again and again
because yesterday’s first thought, best thought, is today’s
what the fuck was i thinking?
don’t do it.
if you must hold yourself accountable to the crowd,
don’t do it.
if you must post your daily progress like tally
marks or signposts during a self-indulgent and
miserable uphill battle,
don’t do it—
it is not our jobs to hold you accountable to
your word or your words—especially
the unwritten ones—so please,
don’t add to that.

don’t do it.

if you cling to the idea that you’re “blocked,”
then do what needs doing
to stoke the fire within.
if you don’t, you’ll spend each day
staring blankly at a blank screen filled,
not with what’s burning to be free, but with silent
passivity as the banal goings-on of
unreal-world friends or their offspring’s
mediocrity fill the screen for you.

stop, already.
don’t do it.

if you must argue with your critics and
defend your words, you’re not ready to defend the word.
don’t do it.
if you must steal another’s brightness to
shine, your dullness will be exposed.
don’t even try.

if you can’t abide waiting until daylight to open your
mind to the words, singing with the birds, then
please—pack your paleo-lunches, go to your
day job, your class that teaches you to
intuit how to polish the right words the right way
so you can earn that elusive A,
and if that is so, that is you,
then why do it at all?

if you have zillions of copy-paste docs waiting for your
organization before you can even think about
writing your great american novel,
spare us; spare us all
and please, don’t tell us about it
because you aren’t going to do it. you won’t.
so don’t do it.

stop the conflation, the self-appointed
importance. stop the conflagration
of the legacies–of those who did it,
who do it, do it, do it, all the way,
every day, while you play dress-up and pretend
as you search your phone for
a newer, better selfie.

the ethernet, the world-wide web, the internet,
with its billions of pixels and code
has glitched itself into a vapid wasteland of
garbage, and those who have been chosen and seek-out
their muses have been lured into a befuddled
stupor because of your pretension. don’t add to that.
don’t do it.

take care the self-made mantle you wear at
parties or among your work friends at the bar
because you believe your unfiltered thoughts from
your addled-mind spewed into the world via a weblog
makes you a writer—that blah-blah-blog
is just a ticker tape of data, metastasized into an
ego-maniacal typist’s online journal.

unless the blinking cursor and screen
are your only life support, and only if not doing it
will drive you to despair, even despite the
derision of all who say don’t,
don’t do it.

if you can’t do it because the distraction of
tab after tab of stimulation or your blinking little
computer vibrates with bling and ring
intones and beckons your fingers to swipe up or right
instead of type, yanking you by the collar out of the
holy land that is writing—
don’t do it.

stop telling the world you are something
you are not. stop it. just stop.

a writer writes and it’s all writers do—
when we work, sleep, love, meet, fuck, stare, sit, hear, listen, and
are too gracious to roll our eyes as you drone on about
the book you are not writing, because
if we’re not there, listening to you wipe your virtual feet
on the sacred ground of our calling, we’re home, and
not in attendance,

because we’re writing.

when you stop making excuses and begin,
time will not find you nor make itself available, you
must fight for it, claim it,
own it.
and if you’ve been chosen, long before you knew
what that meant, you will find when, how and why
to do it
without pretending to.
there are not enough blue thumbs or
likes to hold you afloat if you allow that
sun inside you—that eternity—to darken, turn
to ice and die.
so be ready.

the burden of immortality is upon us
all now. no one great ever wanted to be the sun
and outshine all other. they were content
to be one with the stars, and each warm
a different face with its glow.

don’t act like one. be one. be a writer,
but only if you know you’ve been called.
and how you’ll know is this: if you do not write,
you will feel yourself dying within your own life.

you will know it by the ache inside as you read others
who did it, who do it. you’ll know when you feel bitter,
burning sense of emptiness as you reach an arbitrary
number  of follows that promised this lie:
that what you’ve done is and was enough.

if you are indeed a writer, know that
there has never been another way,
yet there has never been so many ways—so
don’t let them drag you down, deep into all
the many ways you will find
to never
be a writer.

it has never been so difficult, so immense, so
vital to find your own voice, stay true to it, then
let the world find you without losing it
to screams for their 15-second favor.

it is the only good fight there is,
the only win that feels hard-won—as
all wins should feel—

true, eternal,


–j.a. carter-winward © 

(Sadly, I have to add that little “c” after because attribution is apparently becoming a lost art. *heavy sigh*)



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