Professionalism

This September I spent a bunch of (idyllic, productive) time with writers. After our busy days writing/pounding our head against the wall/crying on the phone with sympathetic critique partners we’d all hang out, drink wine, and talk about our lives. Some of the writers were published and lauded, others of us toiled in obscurity. But no matter our publishing status, we were experienced and serious.

The writers who had actually made money from writing (a foreign concept to poets) talked about writing as a profession. You got up, got some coffee, sat down, and went to it. Sure, you whinged, moaned, procrastinated, checked facebook, but one way or the other you managed to sit down and get ‘er done.

You applied to the grants and residencies that you thought you could get. You sent out your work. You second-guessed yourself but you did it anyway because it’s a job and there are always ups and downs in any profession. There was none of this mystical bullshit about muses or waiting until you are inspired.

When I applied to get an MFA, one of my (nonwriter) friends said “you have to send them ten poems??? Isn’t that like sending out ten naked pictures of yourself?” Nope. I worked on those fuckers until they were art photos with a shadow of a person in a corner. I was all professional and businesslike.

But that doesn’t mean I didn’t scream like a little girl when I got accepted to grad school. Writing is still romantic as fuck on occasion. But I suppose even accounting is fun for the accountant. So, cut the crap, show up, and write like it’s your job.

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