ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

WRITERS VOICE

Updated on August 20, 2011
photo by lollypix taken from photobucket
photo by lollypix taken from photobucket

CHARLES BUKOWSKI IS HELPING ME WRITE A SHORT STORY

One of my favourite all time writers is Charles Bukowski, I am a great admirer of his deliberately unadorned style, his keen edged insight into the human race, his wit and his wisdom. One of the most remarkable things, for me, about Bukowski, is the way in which he was able to continue working on his craft, forging brilliant gems, delivering that piercing prose, while generally loaded, or suffering from a hangover. His writing is informed by human existence, in all its banality, beauty and torpor, and he had enormous compassion, I think, for the poor. This comes over in his work, despite his many protestations to the contrary, on tape, at interview, or whenever. He was mischievous was old Bukowski, he could lead his more serious disciples right up the garden path whenever he felt like it. I like to think he's still going on from the grave, writing, talking, expressing himself in his inimitable fashion.

Recently I was grappling with a short story containing 4 main characters, one of whom, is pretty nasty. This is the character around whom the others gravitate and I was trying for honest depiction. My character happens to be African, and life based, (like the majority of characters that a writer invents - even the most outlandish characters, such as Hannibal Lecter, have some basis in reality) and I was struggling with showing what I perceived to be the authenticity of this character, while avoiding easy assumptions based on race, and maintaining a balance within the story itself. This wasn't helped by the fact that when I showed it to my fellow students on the MA programe at London University one or two people were uneasy with what they regarded as 'racial stereotype'.

I was perturbed and attempted to clean up his act, make him more palatable, but a nagging voice (turned out to be Bukowksi) said, hey! you are losing his truth! You are not doing either him, or you, any favours.

So I consulted a good friend of mine from Ghana, who had read the original piece, and with or two reservations, (which I accepted), found him utterly convincing. When she saw what I had done to him in subsequent drafts, she was outraged.

'What have you done? You've whitewashed him! You've taken away all his character, he's boring now!'

Then Bukowski, (whom I now regard as my mentor, and guide) said,

'You know she's right, so sing it like it is, baby.'

In the end I resurrected my African, brought him back out of his snow white casket and reinstated him to the place where he belonged. He's back, and with a vengeance, and he rocks.

The moral of this story being, be true to your characters, and to yourself as a writer.

Another thing Bukowski is helping me with, is the de-purpling of my prose, check him out, he's awesome. See the way he conveys myriad ideas within a few simple lines. For instance, in the opening pages of 'Factotum', Henry Chinaski, a wanderer and a loner, is in search of employment. A guy calls him over and offers him a job.

Over his shoulder I could see a large dark room. There was a long table with men and women standing on both sides of it. They had hammers with which they pounded objects in front of them. In the gloom the objects appeared to be clams. They smelled like clams. I turned and continued walking down the street.

These four un-complex sentences contain a rich subtext on the monotony of menial work, poverty, social exploitation, and the narrator's own rejection of the value system he has inherited, and yet is forced to inhabit.

Brilliant.




Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Alice Frances profile imageAUTHOR

      Alice Frances Wickham 

      7 years ago from London

      hi Patrick, with you there, Buk is enmeshed in my brain too

    • patrick fealey profile image

      patrick fealey 

      8 years ago from California

      be brutal.

      the less slack you cut a human being, the more interesting he becomes, even when it's negative attention. the more real he is and that's the job, isn't it? it sounds like you learned a lot from writing your story. among those things was exactness.

      i've got a few mentors crowding my brain and buk is among them.

    • Alice Frances profile imageAUTHOR

      Alice Frances Wickham 

      8 years ago from London

      Well, hi there, thanks and glad to meet you on here

    • itakins profile image

      itakins 

      8 years ago from Irl

      So glad I found your hub-brilliant.

    • Alice Frances profile imageAUTHOR

      Alice Frances Wickham 

      8 years ago from London

      Hi Donna, thanks for your comment, yes I will post that story on here, actually, good idea, once I figure out how to do it, if you visit mollyfitzgerald.com and become a member, that story is on there in all its draft stages, which I thought was an interesting thing to do, to show the different stages a piece of raw material goes through to get to its final draft - I'm still working on the last draft, with the help of Bukowski, I'll post it here soon

    • donna bamford profile image

      donna bamford 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Very interesting. i write ficiton too - that is I try - remain true to your character? problably good advice but my characters change and develop. Still i try not to whiewash them. Very interesting point. Have you posted or are you going to post any of your short stories?

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)