Really Writing

Tuesday, December 7th, 2004 • 2 Comments on Really Writing

I found this wonderful poem at Amy’s blog.  It seems especially appropriate that I found it today.

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 a certified 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

Posted by Kristina in Writing
  • Suzanne says:

    Wonderful poem, but the title is misleading.
    I think it applies to the old who want to, too.

  • Amy Grier says:

    Thanks for the Neruda Poem you submitted. I love his work. My husband and I had one of his poems read at our tenth anniversary celebration in 2003.

    I read Piercy’s poem many times, and I think she expresses some very common feelings writers have, like you said. We tend to be self-critical. In the end, no matter what Piercy or anyone says, we have to work out for ourselves why we write, and why we deserve to write and be called writers. I don’t think anyone can give that to us; we have to claim it.


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