I've always loved Patti Smith; she's one of those people who doesn't seem to have compromised much, with amazing results. I finally read Just Kids, her memoir about her early life with the artist Robert Mapplethorpe. She was/is tough, brave, and smart, and it was a great read. They basically hung out together, were totally committed to creativity, and lived on a budget of absolutely nothing. My favorite tidbit: Smith got a plum job working in the rare books section of a bookstore and used her knowledge of antique books to feed herself and Mapplethorpe during extra lean times.
After reading this book, it's clear that I have no idea what it is to truly sacrifice for art. I know it isn't the sixties anymore, but the atmosphere's different. However, I do know that the crazy friends you make in your early 20's can last a lifetime and continue to inspire, and all that time spent just hanging out is special, even when you're not a famous punk poet.