Work is its own cure

Some days, you have to find inspiration where ever you can. Motivation to keep going. I found this lovely poem on the blog of a beautiful and talented friend. She’s an actress. Thank’s Big Al, for the reminder.

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.

Marge Piercy, “For the young who want to” from Circles on the Water: Selected Poems of Marge Piercy (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1982). First appeared in Mother Jones V, no. 4 (May 1980). Copyright © 1980, 1982 by Marge Piercy and Middlemarsh, Inc. Used by permission of the Wallace Literary Agency, Inc.

Source: Circles on the Water (Alfred A. Knopf, 1982)

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