Tuesday, April 24, 2007

For the young who want to


Talent is what they say 
you have after the novel 
is published and favorably 
reviewed. Beforehand what 
you have is a tedious 
delusion, a hobby like knitting. 

Work is what you have done
after the play is produced
and the audience claps.
Before that friends keep asking
when you are planning to go
out and get a job. 

Genius is what they know you 
had after the third volume 
of remarkable poems. Earlier
they accuse you of withdrawing, 
ask why you don't have a baby, 
call you a bum. 

The reason people want M.F.A.'s, 
take workshops with fancy names 
when all you can really 
learn is a few techniques, 
typing instructions and some- 
body else's mannerisms 


is that every artist lacks 
a license to hang on the wall 
like your optician, your vet
proving you may be a clumsy sadist 
whose fillings fall into the stew 
but you're certified a dentist. 


The real writer is one
who really writes. Talent
is an invention like phlogiston
after the fact of fire.
Work is its own cure. You have to
like it better than being loved. 




-Marge Piercy

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