1. 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.


    By Marge Piercy

     
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