Many successful writers live in New York City and while there are obvious advantages to proximity to this major media market, NYC is prohibitively expensive for some writers and seems like the internet may have leveled the playing field on some level. Do you think its feasible for a writer in a secondary market like Boston or Philly to make a decent living writing full-time?
Great question, and one, I think, with a surprising answer. Which is this: I really don't think that NYC-based writers have much of an advantage at all. If anything, given our high cost of living, we might actually be disadvantaged.
When I got your question, I took a quick look at my address book to determine where most of my writer friends live. Here's what I came up with: several in Chicago, several in New England, a few in Philly, D.C, LA, SF, various random parts of California and the Midwest, Long Island, and Brooklyn. A paltry number of us actually live in Manhattan. Surprised? You shouldn't be. Hell, some of my friends even live in Europe.
As you hinted, the internet has become the great equalizer. I can count the number of editors I've met in person on one, okay, maybe two hands. Nearly all of my relationships have been built via email, and nearly of my correspondence is carried out this way too. So most editors don't give a flying fig where you live, as long as you're accessible. Another bonus? Many of the writers who do live outside of the city plan visits to NYC and make a point to schedule meetings with their editors, something I don't do nearly enough because, well, I live here, so both my editors and I fall into the trap of thinking, "Oh, we can do coffee at any time." And meeting with your editors is definitely a great way to land assignments, so if you live in Timbuktu, just plan an annual trip, and you're set.
Finally, don't forget that some of the biggie magazines don't even operate from NYC these days. Many of Rodale's mags are housed in Emmaus, PA (where???) and Southern Progress, now an arm of TimeInc, operates out of Birmingham.
I often beg my husband to give it all up and move to Southern Cal - nude babies on the beach, lingering warm afternoons, lazy work schedules. Alas, he's a New Englander (never more so during Red Sox season, sigh) and just won't cave. But if I could, I'd happily move anywhere in the world (anywhere that's warm, that is), and I'm confident my career wouldn't be affected one bit.
So...where do you all live? Think it affects your success?