For the young who want to, by Marge Piercy

[On the occasion of realising the guy I was sort of seeing is the kind of drinker with whom a 2nd date is staying up all night in the ER with him after he drinks so much he falls backwards and cracks his head open, the last lines of this popped into my head...]
  1. Talent is what they say
  2. you have after the novel
  3. is published and favorably
  4. reviewed. Beforehand what
  5. you have is a tedious
  6. delusion, a hobby like knitting.
  7. //
  8. Work is what you have done
  9. after the play is produced
  10. and the audience claps.
  11. Before that friends keep asking
  12. when you are planning to go
  13. out and get a job.
  14. //
  15. Genius is what they know you
  16. had after the third volume
  17. of remarkable poems. Earlier
  18. they accuse you of withdrawing,
  19. ask why you don't have a baby,
  20. call you a bum.
  21. //
  22. The reason people want M.F.A.'s,
  23. take workshops with fancy names
  24. when all you can really
  25. learn is a few techniques,
  26. typing instructions and some-
  27. body else's mannerisms
  28. //
  29. is that every artist lacks
  30. a license to hang on the wall
  31. like your optician, your vet
  32. proving you may be a clumsy sadist
  33. whose fillings fall into the stew
  34. but you're certified a dentist.
  35. //
  36. The real writer is one
  37. who really writes. Talent
  38. is an invention like phlogiston
  39. after the fact of fire.
  40. Work is its own cure. You have to
  41. like it better than being loved.