I sometimes fantasize that there are young writers out there who might seek out my advice on how to survive as a writer. (Hasn't happened yet.) If that were to happen, it would be: Marry well.
This gets a laugh, because people always think I mean, "marry rich." Which wouldn't hurt.
But I really mean find a partner who gets who you are, and who understands that being a writer is part of you are, not just what you do. Someone who will put up with lack of income, who will put up with you when you're in a slump and when you need to bitch and whine. Again. And again. Someone who doesn't set deadlines for you, but knows when you need to be reminded of the ones you've set for yourself.
Here's why I'm lucky to have been married to my wife for the past 19 years. Earlier this week I was asked if I might want to teach a playwriting class at a college. The money would be minimal and the commute would be long, and I wouldn't know exactly what I was doing so it'd take a lot time, but it might be fun. And some money would be better than no money. And I had a great time filling in for a prof at MIT last semester. It was flattering to be asked (and ego food is always a good thing). And I'm good at saying Yes to too many things. I got that little buzz going as I imagined how it might all work out.
I ran it by my wife, who said "It sounds great. But you're struggling to find time right now to work on your novel, and this would eat up your time. It'd probably be a mistake." But she knew I'd been excited, so she added, "If you need me to change my tune and be super supportive, I can do that, too. But this is the realistic version."
I really want to finish this new novel by the end of the year, and my days get short pretty quick (the kids will be out of school for the summer soon, I'm getting involved with a Brookline author's group that might put together a community cable show on books and local authors, and I have two other projects that I'm trying to get off the ground). I'm lucky to have someone to remind me about what I'm really trying to accomplish. I couldn't do it without her.