If Wishes Were Horses

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

zpriddyby Jan Priddy

In his 1943 novel, Big Rock Candy Mountain, Wallace Stegner blames the life struggles of Bo Mason on the drag of his responsibilities for his wife and children. Without them, Bo might have become a great man.

Can anyone expect to make a life in the arts while simultaneously supporting themselves and a family?

The short answer is: probably not.

Through my undergrad years at the University of Washington, I won scholarships, but mostly I worked at least eighteen hours a week, thirty hours when I could get them. I lived at home and then in absolute squalor. It was a long while ago, and both minimum wages and tuition were lower, but even in the 1970s and 80s people graduated with debt or had parents able to pay support them. I expected to become a full-time artist.

Early on, I was advised to marry money. Instead…

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