You have to live it to some degree. You have to be committed and yes money ruins you. Fiction writing is not a parlor trick you sit in your armchair and play. You have to feel it with your heart and soul and your very existence should be in those words. The real fiction writer is dangling by a thread over the chasm of his survival and his or her writing is salvation. The white hot furnace of fiction demands this.
You could not have an On the Road if Kerouac was fat and sassy and sitting on a million bucks. The only reason that book works is because he lived it, but also because his back was against the wall. He could not get published, he was broke, wandering. Out of this came a teletype scroll of words fueled by Benzedrine that became a testament to the world and summed up a generation. Or A Catcher in the Rye. The book resonated because Salinger felt disaffected and lost after the war. His agony became Holdens.
Take our fiction today. It is thin gruel for our Internet souls. A lot of it is warmed over derivative fiction that violates that most basic rule, show don't tell. A lot of authors write on what they dont' know. They don't know life because they are experiencing it in the third person behind the veil of the Internet or movies or books. If they do live the writer life then they must survive and then they must get into print. No small thing. The current vogue of fiction is something between I'm going to bury you with my historical opus and what real story can I tell served up as fiction.
You certainly can't look to the bestseller lists to find the real stuff. It's not there. Never has been. The white hot furnace of fiction burns cold except for the hungry.
Wiliam Hazelgrove's latest novel Rocket Man is due out in the fall.