Denis Johnson who I once had the pleasure of doing a reading, performance (Trapdoor 62) in Seattle had one main piece of writing advice that was I think key and yet wasn’t really about writing at all. He said live on as little money as possible. By little, he meant as close to zero as possible.
Here is an NFL lineman (Baltimore Ravens) and part-time mathematician John Urschel saying the something similar (even though he has a lucrative contract): “I drive a used hatchback Nissan Versa and live on less than $25k a year. It’s not because I’m frugal or trying to save for some big purchase, it’s because the things I love the most in this world (reading math, doing research, playing chess) are very, very inexpensive.”
If the MFA thing is a bit of a racket, the industry around aspiring the college football and the NFL completely dwarfs it. Denis Johnson is a writerly freak. John Urschel is even more of a freak. He is a widely published mathematician who also says, “I play because I love the game. I love hitting people. There’s a rush you get when you go out on the field, lay everything on the line and physically dominate the player across from you.”
The subtext I think of the cliche “follow your bliss” is that really if you are obsessed with something you will get rich, or be a Denis Johnson or John Urschel. When really follow your bliss means you might not notice that you are poor. I suppose for Urschel that it helps knowing he has more money in his bank account than he knows what to do with…