Sometimes you don’t know why you get a rejection letter. Sometimes they spell it out to you. Sometimes you don’t get one at all.
For decades today’s birthday boy, Charles Bukowski got one rejection letter after another telling him he was gross, disgusting, sloppy, immature, unrefined, and writing about the worst parts of Los Angeles.
It wasn’t until he turned 51 that he had his first novel published, Post Office, which to this day is beloved, in part because it is gross, disgusting, sloppy, unrefined and about the worst parts of LA. It’s also super funny and totally relatable about how tough it is to work a job you aren’t really into.
Today Bukowski would have turned 99. It’s incredible that he lived past 35 as that was when he nearly died from a bleeding ulcer from drinking so much and eating so poorly. But someone upstairs wanted him around. I think it was to give us all hope.
And to show that if you stick to your guns and be yourself, that you don’t have to try to adjust to the times, the world will spin towards you.
The guy who couldn’t sell a poem to any distinguished outlets for most of his life sold millions of books after his 50th birthday.
If you are discouraged, hurt, or sad, keep this in mind: They can’t all say no.
Happy 99th to America’s greatest poet and LA’s patron saint.