Fearless underground poet and novelist Charles Bukowski on going all the way.

Written by Cole Schafer


Charles Bukowski was a tenacious writer and poet that wrote at a staggering pace. It is rumored he wrote his debut book, The Post Office, in a little over three weeks.

While he is seen as a misogynist asshole by some and the champion of the 60s and 70s working class by others, one thing can be said for sure… Bukowski knew a thing or two about going all the way.

At 49 years old, after decades of writing, he left his job at The Post Office with not a dime in retirement to partner with a legendary literary agent and publisher John Martin.

In one letter he shared…

"I have one of two choices – stay in the post office and go crazy ... or stay out here and play at writer and starve. I have decided to starve."

For the next 24 years, Bukowski wrote like a maniac shelling out nearly 60 books and thousands of poems.

In one of these books, Factotum, he wrote something that changed a lot of people’s lives, mine included.

It went a little something like this…

“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start.

This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind.

It could mean not eating for three or four days.

It could mean freezing on a park bench.

It could mean jail.

It could mean derision.

It could mean mockery — isolation. Isolation is a gift.

All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds.

And it will be better than anything else you can imagine.

If you’re going to try, go all the way.

There is no other feeling like that.

You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire.

You will ride life straight to perfect laughter.

It’s the only good fight there is.”

By Cole Schafer (everything except the above excerpt).