Before becoming one of America’s greatest writers, Charles Bukowski was a blue-collar worker with an alcohol problem, acne scars and the dream of writing his way out of mediocrity. Before pissing on literary cliches to bring the written word to a more natural tone, Bukowski worked at the U.S. Postal Service. Before that he worked at a pickle factory. It wasn’t until he was 49 years old in 1969 that publisher John Martin offered to pay Bukowski $100 every month until he died on the condition that he quit his day job and become a full-time writer. So Bukowski wrote, “I have one of two choices—stay in the post office and go crazy…or stay out here and play writer and starve. I have decided to starve.” Bukowski published his first book with Martin’s publishing company. He went on to publish six novels and thousands of poems. Bukowski wrote this letter to Martin 17 years later about what it felt like when he ditched the 9-5.