On writing outside of a garret

by look i have opinions

“Charles Baxter told a shivering roomful of us greenhorn MFA students that we didn’t have to live in a garret to be a real writer. We could have a family, a house, a stable life featuring continuity, regular visits to the dentist, etc., without somehow compromising ourselves. I think we all sort of exhaled at this welcome news. And there is a twofold subtext to Charlie’s advice, at least as I hear it now: 1) the whole world can be your subject, no matter how your life happens to be built and 2) you will experience suffering enough, you don’t have to go out hunting it. Both these secret messages have stood me in good stead.”

—Michael Byers (found here)

This is a pretty smart thing to say. I would send it to my wannabe bohemian friends if I knew the addresses of their garrets. I suspect, however, that they want to be real bohemians, or real crazies, more than they want to be real writers. I have not yet determined how to satisfy that desire. I don’t think even “real writers” are free from it.