Lately I’ve been thinking about my priorities and goals and focus (or occasional lack thereof of all three things). This poem resonated with me on many levels because of that, and because of the ever-present gnawing insecurity that I’m just not good enough or committed enough to see my projects through to completion.
An excerpt from “For the young who want to” by Marge Piercy (and, by that way, I want to add that her book Circles on the Water is worth every penny–her poetry is thought-provoking and substantial):
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[…]
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-
boy 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 then being loved.