When you wait for a “somebody,” you’ll be a nobody.
Bukowski wrote every day for twenty years without any hope of publishing. He sent out his poems to the smallest literary journals. He’d give readings in bars and classrooms on his own dime.
Finally, John Martin from Black Sparrow Press offered to pay him $100 a month. Bukowski quit his job at age 49, accepted the offer, and began his first novel.
One month later he finished, “Post Office,” and it instantly became a bestseller, launching a massive career.d
Could he have done it earlier? Of course. $100 a month didn’t really mean anything to him.
It was the 20 years of daily work without hope for compensation that enabled him to act when the time was right.
It was the 10 years of doing readings and self-publishing “chapbooks” and appearing in small literary journals.
It was dealing with all the rejection and failure along the way. It was reading every writer that he admired over and over again.
It was dealing with all the critics that hated his work. He hated his life but loved writing.
All of this while working 9 hours a day at a job he hated and then writing all night.
It’s hard to get “chosen” to succeed. Nobody will do it for you. There are no magic blessings from the gatekeepers.
It’s even harder to put in the work by yourself and lonely and struggling.
But then it works. Choosing yourself, without expectation, is the formula. He said, “I’m going to do this.”
Then everything clicks. You never look back.