Home > 555. The Golden Thread, 88. The Quaggas of Creativity > The Poet’s Purse: Quaggas of Creativity, Post 7

The Poet’s Purse: Quaggas of Creativity, Post 7

File:Brocade purse.jpg


In nothing does the poet betray his (or her) allegiance to the muse more than through finances. Speaking perhaps not strictly for himself, RT has more than once wished that he had been born with a calling to be an accountant. How much easier, how much simpler. Not to mention the prospect of owning a house, marriage, children, the structure of a work schedule. John F. Kennedy said during an interview that the life of leisure is the hardest life of all. More than a few of the muse’s devotees know what he means.

There is no point in pretending that writing poetry does not require leisure–and the highest quality leisure, at that. A poet must be rested, reasonably well fed, and undisturbed while composing. A quiet desk at the library suggests itself, as does a chair and writing surface late at night. That doesn’t mean you can’t have an ordinary life with all the accouterments, but poets living with significant outside obligations must struggle to find 15 or 30 minutes here or there (not to mention a quiet space and energy) to carry on the task.


So what happens when a poet bites the bullet and spends most waking hours working on poetry projects? What happens when the bills arrive? RT ventures a few suggestions on how to handle this unavoidable moment:

1) Don’t panic and don’t avoid. Remind yourself that there is a reason you are living with little money. Check the progress of your most important writing project, do some work on it, and then make a note to yourself to deal with at least one bill today. Don’t let that note get buried in the paper pile; follow up on it.

2) Set deadlines. RT is happy to admit that this one is tough. One reason he loves writing poetry is that he hopes he has thereby slain the Deadline Monster. But choosing a deadline (or even better, dividing your project up into milestones) does help encourage and expedite the process. If you have to go to press with a manuscript slightly less than perfect, just chomp on the bullet a little harder–and keep working away until you’re satisfied with the piece.

3) Eat. This is the place that most poets living on their own recognizance fall down. Two thousand calories a day of the best food you can get access to will greatly ease the process of creation. Don’t be proud: check out the local food bank, ask at local ministries that distribute food, eat with your family or friends when possible. Volunteering once or twice a week for a cause you believe in can produce meals courtesy of the organization. Check for the best deals at local supermarkets. And don’t forget your vitamins.

4) Pay attention to personal hygiene. OK, this one probably applies more to the gentlemen than to the ladies. Nothing says more about your state of mind than your appearance (or the neatness of your living space). Men: shave; brush, floss, and gargle; shampoo your hair; and give yourself a towel bath every day.  Devote a couple of afternoons each week to digging down through the various unsorted piles and unattended papers in your living space. Clean out the refrigerator.

5) Keep your appointments. All of them–shrink, minister, doctor, family and friends. Be polite and concentrate on the task at hand.

6) Keep a lid on your personal vices. RT himself has a bad Snickers habit. Experience has taught him to put it on a short chain; that money is much better saved for a tamale from the Latino market or a carton of OJ.

7) Put some money aside every week. A quarter, a dollar–it doesn’t have to be much. Ask what your biggest financial priority is (quite often, the rent, RT would venture) and don’t spend the money on anything else.

8) Take a walk, dance, play your favorite sport, fall in love. Remember that this may be one of the best periods in your life.



Photo: Brocade Purse; author: Binh Giang; WikiCmns; Public Domain.

  1. December 5, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    Even though this is not my routine at all, I kind of wish it were. ^_^

    • December 5, 2012 at 8:43 pm

      DD: thx for the reality check; a calling like poetry (whatever your income) can produce a very high quality life. RT

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