Being Blog

You Have to Like it
Better Than Being Loved

Chapter Be_Marge Piercy

For the young who want to
By Marge Piercy

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
somebody 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.

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