Marge Piercy, “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.

(submitted by ilovepunctuation)

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    I agree completely!
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