If I was actually good at writing poetry I would write it all the time. I would write it for loved ones, I would write it for pleasure, I would write it for myself. I was never an artist, so I don’t pretend to write poetry — which is the closest thing to art in word-form.
I always liked Edgar Allen Poe and Robert Frost. I liked Sharon Olds. I like those who can do what I’m not capable of. I’m jealous of them, in fact. I used to be jealous of Ayn Rand, too, because I used to think she was a great writer. I felt like such an amateur when I read The Fountainhead.
But then you get to a certain point and you realize you can only do what you are good at. And I wasn’t good at art; therefore I wasn’t good at poetry. I could no more paint something beautiful as I could use 75 words and four stanzas to tell a story. I don’t have the patience.
I’ve known some people who know how to paint, and I’ve known some people who know how to use words. I appreciate them and their art. I saw it, and I heard it, and I read it. I know what it looks like.
Yet when I try to make art it looks like something else. It looks like an engineer who has all the tools and colors at his disposal, and all the right ideas, and all the right spirit, but is lacking somewhere. Maybe it’s a vision; maybe it’s love; maybe it’s something I never accounted for.
I don’t mind this tradeoff. It’s like that one song: you have it or you don’t.