This morning my email inbox included a letter from Twitter with a list of posts from folks I follow – technically follow, that is, as I usually don’t allow myself to actually follow them, for reasons that will become clear to the reader shortly. Several of these posts turned out to be quite fascinating, and involved me in a series of reading, communicating, and reading more that took up a good hour, an hour I didn’t really feel I had this morning to spend (oh, and don’t look now, I’m spending time writing things too). It was wonderful though, and I couldn’t help thinking that I wished I were paid to do this, because then I would do it all day and maybe half the night, except for the all day in which I was writing poetry and submitting it to journals, and all the day in which I was reading, period. If I were paid to do this, it would be one of those jobs you hear about where the interviewee says “I can’t believe they pay me to do this – I just love it!”
My employment tends to the direction of “I can’t believe they don’t pay me MORE to do this – it’s OK, but it’s a lot of work, not that interesting, and not enough to live on.”
One of the several articles I read this morning is a great piece by Charles Simic in the New York Review of Books, called Poets and Money. When I reached the stage of reading, communicating, reading something else, and then thinking – ‘Oh no, I have a lot to get done! Another hour squandered on wonderful things!’ everything suddenly came together in my mind. Consider the dilemma of someone I know, who, having newly left a quite decently compensated job for the graduate school poetry MFA track, finds school unfortunately academic – although more practical in terms of potential earning power – than the longed-for environment of creative people, and particularly poets, who, as Simic points out, are generally expected to produce poetry for nothing.
This individual could take me for an example to keep going in the pedestrian track (see above re my earning power). Just yesterday, I viewed a very inspiring video about friend & fellow poet Christopher Luna, who recounts a moment when he was enjoined by the poet Antler to “Make poetry your life!” My friend has done this beautifully, and all this sets me this morning to pondering; is it possible, I wonder, to make creativity my life, and manage to pay the bills as well? An open-ended question. In some favorite words of my late father, that remains to be seen.