Krista posted this thought-provoking poem about artists (specifically writers, but it can be generalized) and I wanted to share it with all the writers and artists out there.

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 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.

(The tone is perhaps a bit more defensive than I usually feel, but I think the sentiment still holds.)

4 responses to “Hobby before, genius after”

  1. floreta Avatar

    wow i do see the bitterness. i’m not sure about the last line! i’d rather be loved.. but that’s the romantic in me. and i’ve been with a writer.. who put his HOBBY [writing] over me and that did hurt. :P

    • floreta’s recent blog post: Archive Monday: The Violin Player

  2. Kristan Avatar

    Haha, well I agree with you about love > work. But I’m a romantic too. ;)

  3. Krista Avatar

    there is a bitter tone to it, but that is definitely why i relate to it. i AM bitter. it’s easy to be bitter when you can no longer write!

  4. Kristan Avatar

    Awww. Why can’t you write?