Last year, while speaking to a writing class at Medgar Evers College, I let slip a terribly-kept secret: there’s no money in this poetry thing. So we have to find other ways of making a living. A student in the front row expressed his dismay at my admission. Not at the idea that, if he […]
I like this, but I wish it went a little deeper into the strange work vs. writing attitudes that are so abundant in the poetry community (is that what we call ourselves?).
There’s this weird dogma of “If your whole LIFE is not writing, you are not a true writer” that is everywhere among my contemporaries, and it drives me bonkers. It manifests as something like “I’m going to get my MFA and then become a tenure track professor, because that’s what you do if you’re a poet.”
I think the creative writing community grooms people to want to be professors when those people are far more likely to become adjuncts. And it’s OK to be an adjunct, that’s not my point, but let’s not pretend that the perils of adjuncting
aren’t a huge fucking problem within the field, ok.
I don’t know. I am annoyed at the system. Wanting to teach is totally fine and great and everything, but if you’re going to do it at a university in the US as a writing instructor, you’re likely going to be working really hard for peanuts.
I’m really enjoying doing writing/editing work that is unrelated to poetry. I write creatively on my own time. I am writing and submitting and publishing more than I ever have before, and I am more removed from academia than I have been in like, 5 years.
I thought I had a coherent point, but this is getting rambly. I think what I’m trying to say is this: writing can happen alongside many careers, and it doesn’t have to be the work of our lives to be the work of our lives. I wish there was less career-judgement within the creative writing community, at least the one I know.
Wait, no, maybe this is my point: being in academia isn’t the only way to be a writer.