Hobby before, genius after

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.)

Change of plans

Andy left for a business trip at the butt crack of dawn on Monday morning and was supposed to return at I-don’t-know-what-the-right-saying-is on Wednesday night. Instead, bad weather stranded him in Baltimore. Also, we were supposed to drive to Rochester today for his sister’s wedding tomorrow. Instead, he flew directly to Rochester (after spending an extra night in Baltimore) and I got to pack my stuff, his stuff, the puppy’s stuff, and the wedding presents and drive all 7.5 hours by myself.


Despite my anxiety about this long and completely unexpected solo road trip, it went quite well. I made good time, even though I stopped twice to get gas and let Riley walk around, and I didn’t really feel too bored or tired. Thank goodness my iPod lasted the whole way… (And thanks to Angie, who chatted with me for half an hour!)

But, since driving + typing is probably worse than driving + talking on a cell phone, I decided not to finish Twenty-Somewhere. My apologies to those of you who care. Those of you who don’t, go read and start caring!

Since I promised you more juice & spice, here it is, albeit in a slightly different form…



  • Margot posted this AWESOME picture of herself to Flickr. (Click to see larger version.) I told her I want her to take pictures of me, but she has to make me look as gorgeous as she does herself.
  • Pseudo guest-blogged a hilarious post about being “the cool aunt,” which I unfortunately have never been (or had?).
  • Cardamom. Thyme. Oregano.

More spice, more juice

I just wrote a long rambling post about questions I keep asking myself (about writing vs. blogging and whether I should be more “strategic” in life) but then I realized y’all really don’t need to know all the stupid circular discussions I have in my head.

(This latest bout of internal debate is the fault of one Maria Schneider, from Editor Unleashed. Last night she came to talk to the writing group I’m part of — thanks, Maria, if you’re reading this! — and it was really interesting to hear her take on what’s coming up for the publishing industry, how the roles of editors and agents will change, what authors should do to stay on the forefront, etc. You can read about her take on those issues, and more, at her blog, which is a fun resource and forum.)

So anyway, I’ve got a new episode of Twenty-Somewhere coming up (tomorrow?) and my mom has instructed me to “spice it up, make it juicy!” Implication: STOP WRITING ABOUT PEOPLE AS LAME AND SQUARE AS YOU. Since mommies know best, consider this your warning: More spice and juice are coming!

How NOT to Become a Professional Author (#1)

A lot of people say a blog should have focus. There are tech blogs, mommy blogs, fashion blogs, etc. So what does my blog fall under? Um… Yeah.

When I first started blogging 15 years ago — no, seriously, at age 9 I coded every post by hand in Notepad then uploaded the html file to my Geocities or AOL Members page — I was just venting. There was a lot pre-teen/teenage/college-age angst. Sometimes I tried to make it “poetic.” Mostly it was about boys. Of course.

When I graduated, I decided that having all that angst floating around The Interwebz was not a good idea, since I wanted to have a successful career in a semi-public arena. Amy Tan doesn’t get stalked like Kristen Stewart, but some writers do become celebrities of sorts, and I just wanted to be cautious. So I started this blog/site with the idea that it would be a combination of personal and professional, a record of my journey to becoming a published author.

However, two years have passed since I graduated college with my B.A. in creative writing, and so far, no publications.

So now I’m thinking about refocusing my blog: How NOT to Become a Professional Author.

I’m only half joking! I have a lot of bad habits, and personality traits that are not conducive to the solitary, self-driven lifestyle of an author. As I work through them, I figure it might be good for me and other aspiring writers to see what they are. After all, the first step to solving a problem is identifying it, right?

So, #1 on the list: Lie down on your couch to read a book, and end up falling asleep while cuddling your puppy. This is absolutely guaranteed NOT to help you become a professional author. Because you can’t write, edit, or query an agent with your eyes closed, your brain off, and your face full of fur.

You CAN, however, look quite restful and cute.