On Living an Art-Committed Life with Writer’s Knowledge Base

The theme of The Artist’s Road is “creativity, writing, and an art-committed life.” I provided some thoughts on the rewards and challenges of living an art-committed life, as well as the origins of this blog, in an interview with Elizabeth Spann Craig and Mike Fleming of Writer’s Knowledge Base in the July 2013 issue. Elizabeth is a published author who blogs at Mystery Writing is Murder and tweets at @elizabethscraig, while Mike blogs about technology and writers and tweets at @hiveword.

I’d be flattered if you’d read the short interview and provide any thoughts of your own on the art-committed life here on this post!

About Patrick Ross

I'm the author of Committed: A Memoir of the Artist's Road.

21 Responses to “On Living an Art-Committed Life with Writer’s Knowledge Base”

  1. I loved your Q&A –it was very honest and straightforward which I appreciate in writers. I also want to add that I write because it just makes me feel better. Days that I don’t I sometimes feel anxious, as if a part of me has been neglected.

    • Thanks! Spoken like a true writer, Jennifer. Yes, I didn’t get into what it can feel like when we get off the art-committed routine, but that is a major theme of my memoir.

  2. I’ve been musing on this question lately — wherefrom comes my inclination to artistic endeavour? If the answer isn’t in the genes, it must have originated in a childhood experience long forgotten. All I know is that I grew into a person who, while in university studying fluvial geomorphology, presented a paper on “ripples in the sand” and received a failing grade because I established a matrix for defining them according to how they “felt’ underfoot. Hello! Mr. Reece… this is a science course! Suffice to say, I quit grad school to make movies.

  3. Great interview! You have a way of telling your story so that we might become more aware of our own….

    Ha! Mr. Reese reminded me of how I avoided studying for my undergrad history finals… I would sit down and draw a 19th century homestead/log cabin. Still history, right??

    On a more serious note, life is a series of transitions, focus and more transition. I like to think every experience has offered something to make my creative life what it is. I am in one of those transitions now. For quite a few years I worked on a project of painting old buildings and abandoned homesteads. My background in history gave me the tools to research each of the buildings and in some cases, track down the families whose stories reach back to the first brick. It became a book and nearly every painting was on that theme. Each place became an intimate friend, and the families a part of my world.

    Until I moved 1500 miles away and across a border.

    I, too, am an immigrant now. I can’t do things the way I did them before this time in my life. The focus, the subject, must transition. The only way I know how to do it is through painting and writing. No matter how life changes, I know my next step forward must always be a creative one.

    • I can imagine what the contrast must be, moving from Canada to Oklahoma (or perhaps I can’t, not truly). I think we find ourselves needing to take on creative shifts even when we don’t relocate geographically, of course, we just might not be as quick to pick up on it. You have the self-awareness needed to make your transition, and you have your media (painting and writing). Good luck!

      • You make me sound like I have it together… Far from it!🙂

        Frankly, there are moments when I find it hard to take a breath. I have traveled to distant places, but until now, always lived within 100 miles of where I was born.

        I have so much to learn about my craft and about communicating. It’s one of the reasons I come here. One thing I have learned is how much geography does define us.

        Like you say, some changes are subtle and take longer to detect, even if they are equally profound. We watch them approach like lightening in a distant storm. This one has been like confronting Godzilla at the end of the driveway wondering which one of us is going to get our groceries. LOL!

  4. I love this,
    “Now, when I pick up a book by a writer I like, instead of just seeing a beautiful building, I can look through the walls and see the support beams, electrical wiring, everything that constructs that masterpiece.”

    and this resounds with my recent blog topics,
    ” …what can really last for you is the result of your “community building” with other writers, a term I’ll use instead of “networking.” When you network, you’re looking for people who can help you get ahead. When you build a community, you’re looking for like-minded souls who can support you and who you can support. ”

    That last line is almost exactly what I said on my blog this morn. Great minds think alike, eh?

    You write so…gently? from the heart. I will be back.

    Patti

  5. I love what you said about leading an artful and art-filled life. I see that as a choice, one that’s fairly easy to make and carry out because it’s a mindset. Even people who don’t see themselves as artists per se can lead an artful life. As you say later, it’s very much about observation – noticing what’s beautiful and/or meaningful to us personally. That’s what makes our lives rich!

    I read your interview just after posting a short piece about the muse – why in waiting for her it’s important to stay observant of and immersed in the “art” of our daily lives. Taking a walk, cooking… whatever, doing it with an artistic perspective sets the stage for producing creative work. Nice synchronicity today!

    Anyway, well done! I enjoy your blog and look forward to your memoir.

    If you want to check out Scratching the Aesthetic Itch, it’s at http://wp.me/p1qcaA-aU

    Cheers!

  6. Great interview! I relate to a lot, the desire for community fighting against the habit of introversion. I also created my blog with the intention of having a focus on writing philosophically about music, but I have received much more attention and positive feedback when I write about my personal experiences in life.

    I loved the quote about living an observant life, that’s always an important reminder for me.

    For me, living an art-committed life means viewing all opportunities in an artistic way and viewing all things as opportunities for art. When I’m out biking, I don’t use this time of travel or exercise as a break from thinking about art; I take in the scenery as art, and I listen to sermons or music that inspire my art.

    I think another thing (and I’ve written about this is one my blogs) is that someone who wants to be committed to art also needs to be committed to fellow artists. It absolutely kills me when I see people wanting to be singer or guitarists or songwriters, and yet they don’t go to shows or buy albums or invest in artists’ discographies or share about musical discoveries with their friends. I don’t necessarily believe in karma, but I don’t think anyone can be a “successful” maker of art if they’ve never been a devoted lover of art.

    • Interesting you experienced the same reaction that I did with your blog and the reaction to it in terms of your personal reveals. I also love your approach to viewing all things as opportunities for art. Thanks for your feedback!

  7. While I have no problem with the concept of viewing all things in an artistic way–never have–I am still greatly challenged with doing the writing I crave.

    In my work of helping people to write memoirs, I am constantly immersed in writing, constantly reading other people and constantly helping them to enter more deeply into their work. This endeavor has been wonderful for someone like me who started off as an English major and who has always written, an entry into the lives of so many via a vehicle that has so much meaning for me, but my own “work” gets shunted–and I’m afraid stunted.

    Recently I finished a memoir of my mother and that has felt so good. As Jennifer commented above, I have felt better on the days I have written. Like Alexander, I believe that it is important to support people who are in the art life. For me, that support goes to writers particularly. I hear people say they will get a book at the library rather than buy it. This spring at the Terry Plunkett Poetry Festival at the University of Maine in Augusta, I enjoyed buying books by reading poets. I just remember what it felt like not being supported by fellow writers. Ok, I can get it that we all have limits on our budgets–I certainly do on mine, but shouldn’t we support each other as much as we can?

    Thanks for the good work, Patrick.

    • Hi Denis,

      Thank you for this comment. I dedicated much of my professional career to encouraging honoring artists by paying for their work. I recently decided I’d like to hang three of my daughter’s recent photos in my basement; I purchased prints from her to do so. That said, I’m also listening to a memoir-on-CD right now that I checked out at the local library. I try to support to the extent my budget permits, and love to buy books rather than borrow if I can (and on a recent drive to Vermont I purchased an audio book through Audible).

      On the interference of teaching and writing, one of my MFA advisors–who was teaching at my low-residency program while also teaching full-time at a university gig–has left the low-rez program because he felt all of that teaching was crowding out his ability to write. It was a time-management issue, but also a creativity and clearing-head-space issue as well. I’m glad I got to work with him before he left the program. It’s good you’re cognizant of it; that will help you address it. And kudos to helping people write memoirs through your network.

      Patrick

  8. I so enjoyed reading the full interview with you, especially since I have been taking the blogging course with you through The Loft–a very helpful class, I might add. As I think about living the art-committed life, I am aware of how conducive retirement might be to living in that way. While retirement and that stage of life has its own stresses and challenges, others have diminished.This can be a time to explore one’s creative essence–at least I hope so.

  9. I enjoyed the interview very much. I think, for me, the hardest part of recognizing my need to be creative and maintain an artistic/creative life is that no one in my family was. My daughter is, and she’s looking to me for how to keep things balanced and stay committed to her art. All I can tell her is to renew that commitment each and every day and make time for it. Schedule it first. What I know about myself is simple: If I am not writing or creating, life is miserable for me and those who live with me.

    • Robyn, thank you for this comment. I’ve met many artists who found their way there without any inspiration from family members, and I always find that remarkable. And I commend you for providing a guide for your daughter both on the importance of feeding your muse and making time for it while honoring life’s other commitments. You’re teaching her balance but also whole-brain thinking: “Schedule it first!” Love it.

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