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.

— Marge Piercy, For The Young Who Want To —

To write is such a simple concept, and yet, it can be one of the hardest things to execute.  After sharing the news that my first poetry book now has a title and is ready for publication, I decided to share one of my favorite poems on being a writer.

Marge Piercy breaks down the pressures of society and how they view the act of writing, beautifully in her poem. So, I pass this on to all the young and budding writers who want to. No one will want to read your work unless you want to write it. Hold on to that desire and that passion, and go make something breathtaking with it.

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29 thoughts on “For The Young Who Want To, By Marge Piercy

  1. makes perfect sense and is so necessary to be said – thank you Jade for writing and sharing this advice from a poet and writer. people view writing with such clouded eyes, it also discourages more than encourages a person to write. we write for different reasons and we have our own unique styles. how bring it would be if everyone were the same! i was talking to my best friend the other day about my future writing plans, we touched on the same subject you have exposed above, do we need those literary classes etc? While she thought my writing is good – she is my best friend!! – i did think i have much more to learn and want to learn, not because i want to prove someone wrong but because learning adds dimension to our craft.

    “The real writer is one who really writes.” – i loved the entire poem but this line stood out – you can do all the courses, know all the big words, but do you write?

    I am excited by your passion, inflamed by your own poetry book publication, inspired by your strength!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve always found the creative arts so fascinating in the sense that one does not necessarily NEED a degree or a certification to be successful or to have a career. There are writers, artists, and musicians in our history that were simply born with innate talent or had the uncanny ability to pick up the creative skills on their own. That being said, I don’t think we should ever discourage the education. Writing is more than just putting words on paper, but there is syntax and sentence structure involved, there needs to be an understanding of figures of speech and figurative language. We have to know the rules in order to break the rules. Some writers can just absorb the rules of grammar by reading books and self-teaching, but some writers need to learn just like with any other subject. And this is where education comes in. So, to sum up this long response to you, Gina, I wholeheartedly support you taking a literary class or several. It doesn’t mean you’re not a great writer, but on the contrary it means you appreciate the craft and your own skills enough to want to learn more, improve, and add dimension, like you said 🙂

      P.S. During my undergrad (university 😉 ) years, I took a Creative Writing course. It wasn’t required for my major, but I wanted to learn and I was curious. I learned so much from that course, about myself and my writing. Taking that course was one of the best decisions I made in college 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • thank you for sharing this Jade, taking the time to think it out and write the long response means a lot to me, shows your heart, more than just blogging you give me a sense of camaraderie in writing, it is a lonely world sometimes, sequestered in our little holes, pounding away our thoughts.

        you have given me new insight about taking the course, yes as you said i appreciate the craft and English is not something I learnt by the book, just by reading and conversation really, so still much i want to know about this beautiful language.

        I like the “we have to know the rules to break the rules” indeed sometimes it feels like a sentence is just not there but having no foundation confuses even more.

        i am encouraged by your sharing on your own personal experience with the writing course. empowered by this i will seek out a suitable one for me. thank you my sweet and intelligent friend!

        love and hugs!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. these words resonate. resonate. like i wanna cry. i can see myself in every word, in every line and i should really thank you for sharing this! 🙂
    i think i will jump and join you in this? can i? can i? 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It fills me with great pleasure to read this poem again, truly, one of my favourites! And how true it resonates with many of us. Yay!!! I am looking forward to all the poems I get to read form here onward. I see we have a similar taste for poetry (Erin Hanson, Lang leav 😁😁)

    Liked by 2 people

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