On Thu, 9 May 2013 18:22:00 -0700, Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>Entry 13: Keep your day job.
Is the Key to Becoming a Great Writer Having a Day Job?
This is from an address that T.S. Eliot delivered to the
graduating class of Concord Academy in Concord,
Massachusetts on June 3, 1947.
The usual Commencement speaker, I imagine, is
somebody who has made a success in life in one definite
line or another. But, if there is one thing the poet
is not, he is not a successful man. In the first place,
poetry is not a career: and success ordinarily means a
career. The first thing about poetry is, that nobody
can make a living out of it. Painters and musicians
sometimes make a living, simply because painting and
music are necessarily whole time jobs. You have not
time for anything else, therefore you either live by
painting or music or you don't live at all. Poetry,
fortunately, is not a whole time job. You can only write
poetry for a few hours a day, and there are many days
when you cannot write it at all. This is fortunate, because
the poet, unless he has a sufficient private income --
that is the exception, and I am not sure that
it is a good thing -- I am sure at least that it would
not have been good for me -- the poet must find some
other way of earning an income, and the less his way
of earning a living has to do with poetry, the better. I
myself started by trying to be a teacher; I only tried
that for a year and a half; and after that I had eight
very satisfactory years working in a bank, dealing with
sight drafts, acceptances, bills of lading, and such
mysteries, and eventually writing articles on the movement
of the foreign exchanges for the bank magazine.
The difficulty is that you may become interested in
the work you have to do for a living; if you become
interested, you become rather good at it; if you become
good at it, you get promoted; and the more you get
promoted the less time and energy you have for poetry
-- which was the original reason for doing such work
at all. I know one very fine poet who was obliged to
resign from a government department simply because
he had become too important: he had to take a less
well paid job somewhere else in order to have any
time and energy for poetry.
If you became too ambitious in the work you have
chosen, or fallen into, in order to support you so that
you can write poetry, then the poetry must suffer.
And on the other hand, it is no good being ambitious
to be a poet. ...