In Doubt 7, Skills

It will be impossible to make a living as a Poet. I’ve unfortunately come to this conclusion a long time ago. It was in college, observing my professors, especially those who claimed themselves to be Poets, that I realized it. A close friend of mine, a professor, struggles with this fact too. He’s a brilliant talent, I believe one of the standout poets this country can produce, but he’s slaving away in several jobs just to support himself. He still manages to produce a great amount of poetry and publish amazing books. For myself, I have doubts that I can maintain my creativity alongside my “normal” work.

Now my options seem to be very small. People constantly tell me I should become a professor. I loath academia though. I could talk at length about certain subjects, especially Puerto Rican literature now, a growing passion, but to teach seems like a big responsibility. Yes, I do realize that this sense of responsibility seems rather silly – considering the sort of professor that seems to dominate the system now a days. There is simply more career types instead of the more passionate sort. How many times have I struggled looking for a professor who had the right balance? Too many! And I’m not sure what happens to these guys. Is it that they lose the passion teaching the same material again and again, or did they lack the passion in the first place but envision this route to garner some esteem? I have no doubt that the sort of philosophy going into literature now, Post-Mod, is another reason for the quality of teaching, and it is another reason why I would hate being a part of that system. Not to mention I have a big mouth, so that will likely get me in trouble for some absurd reason.

So my options are very slim. I don’t think there are many jobs that could foster my need for poetic creativity. And it is hard to make it in the writing industry.

My best shot will be to participate in as many writing ventures as humanly possible, spreading myself out a bit. News writing, screenplays, short story, even writing for comic books are all options that I’m interested in. It is balancing out the skills between them that will be hard. I love poetry. It is the thing I know I’m good at. I’m always highly critical on myself, but when I produce a meaningful piece I will work hours until it is done. If it isn’t perfect, I will work again. A week later, another revision – even a complete write up/reimagining. The self-criticism gets even worse when it comes to other forms/genres of writing. For example… I have about a dozen or so short stories lying around, untouched for weeks, which I almost refuse to look at. Why? I’m ashamed of them. They may in fact be great, but it is hard to see them that way. I have a few short scripts lying around to… much the same problem. I used to really like writing plays, writing a few absurd ones, but even those have been abandoned for years.

So what should I do? Honestly, I keep leaning back and forth. All I know is that I must do hard work, but in what direction? Should I struggle for a “normal” job, something to pay the bills, and leave the thing I’m passionate about for certain times of the week, working really hard on them? Should I struggle the artistic path, and all those bumpy roads, until I find the niche that will give me the ability to support myself? And if I do choose that path, where should I focus my energy on? Should I focus on poetry and squeeze at every opportunity I can get? Or do I focus all over, putting my attention to everything, as best I can, to support myself?  Or do I give up poetry and just focus on another genre that will likely guarantee me some sort of living?

Well… this is where I’m at.

Take care,


3 thoughts on “In Doubt 7, Skills

  1. Facing the same kind of dilemma.. So, here’s how I reasoned through it:

    I need money to eat.

    I need money to pay tuition fees.

    I need money to put fuel in my car.

    I need money to buy stuff! (Everyone needs ‘stuff’)

    So I need a job.

    But forget everything else- I need to write, else I’m not living. So I have the job, and I go to university, and I spend every other spare moment writing. Because it is an obsession. With no expectation to become successful or affluent from it. I joined some online writing communities, this gets some of my writing out there to receive feedback and to give myself a sense of achievement and appreciation for it.

    Phew! What a ramble!

    So yeah, get the monies! Keep writing! It’s all possible. Fo sho.


  2. Don’t give up. Poetry is something that you live by – by the sounds of things, and it’s always perhaps fearful but somehow right to go after your dreams whether ‘practical’ or not. I’m in a similar situation. As an aspiring journalist I write on a daily basis but see myself working in tedious jobs, unrelated to writing, just to get by. It’s a part of the industry but at least it means we’re doing something that we love. It seems that you’ll always be a poet, so that isn’t the issue – the issue is figuring out some other way to support yourself whilst you’re getting to where you want to be.

  3. If you’re this passionate, then you’re unlikely to give up, so you might as well pursue it. Maybe that means continually working day jobs to pay the bills, or maybe it means being a poet-entrepreneur of sorts and finding a way in our age of the internet to make a living doing what you love. There’s probably a way, but it’s sure to take some innovation.

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