The Artist’s Road Memoir will be Published this Fall

So it’s official. I’ve signed with an enterprising independent publisher and my memoir–four years after I first started working on it–will be published this October. So many readers of The Artist’s Road have traveled with me as I’ve chronicled this pursuit. I’ve shared my highs and my lows, and there were a fair number of the latter. But you’ve always supported me, and so this triumph is in part yours.

The original banner of The Artist's Road blog, taken on the road trip on Wyoming's 1-80 West.

The original banner of The Artist’s Road blog, taken on my 2010 cross-country U.S. road trip on Wyoming’s 1-80 West.

I plan to share more details about the publishing plans–and the book itself–in future posts. What I can say for now is that Committed: A Memoir of the Artist’s Road will be available in print as a soft launch from Black Rose Writing on October 16th, 2014, and in print and ebook formats a few weeks later in stores and online retailers such as Amazon.

For now, I think it’s worth looking at those highs and lows, in the hope that it is helpful to someone moving forward on a long-term creative project.

  • September 2010: I complete a five-week cross-country U.S. road trip in which I interviewed creatives of all types. I had drifted away from my own creativity, but the artists I encounter inspire me to return to the path of the art-committed life. I give notice to the board of directors of the nonprofit I run, and agree to serve through the end of the calendar year as they recruit a successor.
  • October 2010: I launch The Artist’s Road blog in part to share my story, but also to hold me publicly accountable to my new commitment to creativity.
  • November 2010: An early reader of my blog, Milli Thornton (author of Fear of Writing) posts a comment urging me to tell my story in a book. As it happens, I’m already outlining what would be a part travel book/part creativity craft book.
  • January 2011: I take my first-ever creative writing class. My instructor, memoirist Sara Taber, reads an early chapter. She likes the writing and the attention to detail, but wants more of the narrator. In other words, I am missing from the pages. I resist.
  • March 2011: The annual AWP writing conference is held in my backyard, Washington, D.C. At the conference I decide I want to start an MFA program, and quiz every low-residency program exhibiting. Meanwhile, I begin a new career as a freelance writer.
  • April 2011: I accept an MFA admissions offer from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. My first residency is in June and I need to submit 20 pages of creative writing, so I send another chapter of the travel/craft book-in-progress.
  • June 2011: I experience my first-ever writing workshop at my VCFA residency in Montpelier. The instructors and students like the writing and the attention to detail, but want more of the narrator. I am missing from the pages. My wall of resistance to including myself in the story develops a crack.
  • July 2011: I begin working with my first-semester MFA instructor, Kurt Caswell. For five months he implores me to put myself on the page. The book is threatening to morph into a memoir, I tell him. He says that’s what the book wants to be.
  • January 2012: I start working with my second-semester MFA instructor, Larry Sutin. He presses me further; I slowly start revealing myself in my prose, and darned if it doesn’t make for a better read.
  • April 2012: I decide to leave behind freelance writing and return to full-time work. I begin to have serious doubts as to whether I’ll ever finish the book.
  • June 2012: I sweat through another VCFA workshop, with the students critiquing a chapter I wrote with Larry in which I reveal a secret about myself known only to a handful of people. To my surprise, they do not berate me or run from me. They focus on the writing, and applaud the places where I am on the page.
  • July 2012: I begin working with my third-semester VCFA instructor, Sue William Silverman. Now finally aware of the power in writing honestly about yourself in creative nonfiction, I go on a writing tear. I know what the book wants to be, and Sue does a great job of guiding me.
  • January 2013: I start writing for my final MFA instructor, Sascha Feinstein. With him the final pieces of the book fall into place.
  • May 2013: I submit a complete draft of the memoir as part of my creative thesis. It is 384 pages.
  • July 2013: I graduate from VCFA. My next project is editing the memoir down to a manageable size.
  • August 2013: I reduce the manuscript size to 300 pages. I then hire Sara Taber, my very first creative writing instructor, to edit it.
  • September 2013: Equipped with great editorial feedback from Sara, I begin a final revision of the book.
  • October 2013: I decide to leave my literary agent just after sending him the manuscript. It feels like career suicide as I begin querying agents.
  • January 2014: I have been rejected by a lengthy list of agents. The consensus is that they like the writing and the story, but do not feel that they can place a memoir at a major publishing house by an unpublished author who isn’t a celebrity or a survivor of some heinous tragedy such as a hang-gliding accident in the Andes or a volcanic explosion in Siberia. At the recommendation of my mentor Sue William Silverman, I begin querying independent publishers that don’t require agents.
  • April 2014: After several near-misses in which publishers decline the manuscript for reasons outside of my control, I receive an offer from Black Rose Writing. I connect with an intellectual property attorney to review the contract.
  • May 2014: After some back-and-forth and a lengthy telephone conversation, I find I have great faith and confidence in the publisher, and appreciate the passion demonstrated for my manuscript. I sign the contract and add a new page to my website.

It’s only five months until a new bullet is added to this list; an October publication. I have a lot to do leading up to that date, which begins with new rounds of extensive editing with the publisher. (For one, I want the book to be shorter still.) Fortunately I enjoy editing, especially when I know the end result is publication.

Thank you again, all of you in the Artist’s Road community, for your support, encouragement, and patience. I hope this timeline demonstrates the importance of patience as a component of an art-committed life.

About Patrick Ross

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

77 Responses to “The Artist’s Road Memoir will be Published this Fall”

  1. Congratulations! What wonderful news!

  2. Congratulations, Patrick!! After all the twists and turns the book has gone through, I’m really looking forward to reading it when it is published.

  3. Wooohooo!!!! Well done. This is a wonderful example of perseverance. Thank you Patrick for sharing and I can’t wait to hear about these next steps!

  4. Your desire to express yourself in the artistry of words is palpable in every line of this post. As I’ve often noted, writing a memoir is a journey in its own right. (I’ve been working on mine for 10 years. For a fascinating send-up of this memoir about writing a memoir see Stephen Markley’s “Publish This Book: The Unbelievable True Story of How I Wrote, Sold and Published This Very Book”). I love that you are using the journey across country as a metaphor for your creative journey. Excellent! (For another memoir about the use of a journey as a metaphor see Mark Richardson’s “Zen and Now” in which he describes his motorcycle journey along the same route as traveled by Robert Pirsig.) Thanks for sharing your passion, thereby turning us strangers into friends. I look forward to reading more.

    Best wishes,
    Jerry Waxler
    Author of Memoir Revolution

    • Thank you for this comment, Jerry! And for the book recommendations. I would say Pirsig’s “Zen” was a huge influence on this book; I actually make reference to it in the book, along with “Blue Highways” by William Least Heat Moon, Stephen Fry’s “Stephen Fry in America” and of course John Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charley.” I’ll check out Richardson’s take on the genre.

  5. davidbgoldstein Reply May 12, 2014 at 7:59 am

    You show that with much climbing there is hope to get published without having a hang-gliding accident in the Andes or surviving a volcanic explosion in Siberia. I can’t wait to read you memoir! Congratulations Patrick!!

  6. Good work! Looking forward to reading it!

  7. Congratulations, Patrick. Thank you for sharing your inspirational journey toward publication-Bravo for hanging in through the bitter end. I so look forward to reading your memoir!

  8. Fantastic, truly fantastic! It’s been a pleasure following you, discussing with you, and most importantly, learning from you the last few years. Congratulations!

  9. Congratulations, Patrick. Great news after your long and dedicated journey.

  10. I’m so very thrilled your memoir is going to be published, Patrick! You are a such a beacon of creative inspiration to many and I just can’t wait to read this important book. I’m so grateful you persevered (as you continue to do so taking us along as you travel on The Artist’s Road). Here’s hoping the months fly by until October (ok, maybe not too quickly as,we just NOW got some decent spring weather after an absurdly long, harsh winter!). Huge congratulations!🙂

    • Ah Carole Jane, you’ve been on this road with me for awhile now! Thank you for sticking with me during all of this, and for your encouragement. I will say that October is lovely here in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S., but I agree that I am in no hurry to start approaching another winter. Besides, there’s so much I have to do between now and October, starting with manuscript revisions!

  11. Patrick… you’ve influenced my writing compass in the direction of non-fiction, so thank you for that. I’m writing my own memoir-ish thing. Now I find myself up a literary creek without much of a paddle. Thanks for that, too. Where once I wrote of the protagonist’s adventure, now I am the protagonist. And if I can’t find my way to meaning of some kind, I will fall short of being a hero. Does that make me a tragic hero? Is there a market for memoirs that end with the author falling on a sword? See what you’ve done? I’ve never been more excited about the writing life! Come hell or high water, I will be first in line to buy your book.

    • Wow, you’ve left me speechless. (Typeless?) I will perservere regardless. The only interesting hero is one with flaws and failings; otherwise we find the individual insufferable. There is something to be said for meaning in a narrative, but perhaps the narrative meaning is that there is no true meaning, and in that wisdom is found? Regardless, I have every confidence you have much to offer readers in your own voice as your own person.

      And let’s hope tsunamis and the land of eternal damnation don’t coordinate to delay your book purchase!

  12. Congratulations, Patrick! This is wonderful news. It means I have a pretty good idea when I’ll finally get to read your book.

  13. I’m glad to have walked this road with you, Patrick. Congratulations! Looking forward to many more bullet points.

  14. Congratulations! Loved reading each of the highs and lows.

  15. I always knew if you kept going, you’d get ‘er done. Congratulations again, Patritck, I’m very excited for you in this major step of your journey!! Be sure to celebrate now, when the editing is complete, on the publication date and especially,especially the first time you see someone buy your book – this is a big deal! – Amy (Buchheit) Luck

  16. Looking forward to this! best of luck and keep us posted.

  17. So very happy for you! Congrats again, Patrick. Much deserved.

  18. Patrick, deep congratulations. I’m excited for you and for the rest of us (who will get to read your published book!). Excellent idea to outline your journey in this blog post—such an inspiration to see the power of persistence at work. Your commitment to the creative life shines through.

  19. A huge congratulations, Patrick. I am over the moon ecstatic. And I am lucky enough to already know how wonderful it is (having read early drafts). Now, I look forward to reading it in this new incarnation. The best news possible! Truly wonderful!!

    • Thank you, Sue! As I charted above, you have played such a critical role in making this happen; I really can’t emphasize that enough. It’s fair to say the book wouldn’t be what it is today without your influence.

  20. Yee-aay!! Huge congratulations, Patrick! And having read this list, how incredibly brave you’ve been through the entire process – no honestly, you really have. All the risks you’ve taken to get to this point, the willingness to be vulnerable for your art – that takes a metric tonne of guts. I came fairly late to your blog – around 2012 if memory serves – but I’ve always been intrigued by the tale of your travelling interviews and longed to know more about them. And now, in October I’ll get the chance – and I can hardly wait!

    I shall raise a glass in a toast to you (although I don’t drink much these days, so there might well be chocolate in it instead. I can make that work…😉 )

  21. It seems you’ve really embraced putting “you” into your written words, Patrick… This post is an example of how you opened up, yet again, and put yourself out there, sharing painful parts of the publishing process with us as well. That means a lot to me. I’m in a similar situation; just knowing others are suffering (and I DO mean suffering) the same ups and downs is somehow reassuring. I love that you’re charging ahead! Your book sounds fascinating! Can’t wait to read.

    • Thank you, Melissa! You know, the whole putting yourself out there thing does get a bit easier over time. Really, the reveals in this post are modest compared to what’s in the book. (Gulp.) Thanks for your enthusiasm!

  22. Congratulation, Patrick — what wonderful news! –Donna Gough

  23. Congratulations, Patrick! A happy heart here for you!😀😀😀 ((hugs)) And it’s not just about patience—it’s about flexibility and open-mindedness with your work which, when suggestions are offered can often take time to penetrate enough to allow us to “see” and then relinquish our initial vision. It happened for you and you were blessed with the catalysts to help make it all happen. How wonderful😀😀😀 I’m glad I hopped on this train in time to share the last leg of your journey toward publication🙂

    • Glad to have you on the train as well. Oh, and you win the emoticon contest!

      As to taking suggestions, as I said to Wendy above, I was certainly open to suggestion. I think you’ll understand that I have reached the age where I don’t have patience for pride getting in the way of me doing things. If someone has some knowledge I will listen to it. In the MFA program I figured I was paying good money for one-on-one work with instructors, so I’d try everything they suggested, and then stick with and work on what seemed to “work” for me. Because this is a memoir, it’s safe to say I couldn’t have written it ten or twenty years ago because I hadn’t lived the story I’m telling in it yet (well, I had lived some of it), but the real truth is I couldn’t have written it because I wasn’t open enough then to learning and growing.

      • LOL…I CAN get carried away with emoticons, but it’s usually when I have BIG things to emote about!😉 I’m glad you were “open” ’cause it enabled you to do this. (OK, was gonna insert a smiley, but…hehehe)

  24. Congratulations! Thanks for sharing your time line with highs and lows. I’m in the process of writing a memoir as well, the very beginning stages, so that was very encouraging! Would love to hear more about your process and progress.

    • Thanks, and congrats! If you click “memoir” in the category cloud (down a bit on the right) you can see posts I’ve written that have dealt with my memoir writing or memoir in general. I’ll keep chronicling my progress!

  25. Woo Hoo! I am thrilled for you! Can’t wait to read it.

    Maybe we can have a celebratory drink when I’m in DC for the World Fantasy Convention in November and you can sign my copy.

    Kate

  26. Congratulations, Patrick! Your journey resonates with mine so I can celebrate with you. I think it takes the 3 Ps; patience, persistence and passion to reach this monumental memoir milestone. Cheers~

    • Thank you so much! I like the 3 Ps there. They certainly apply in this case. (The patience was the most difficult; there were many times I was tempted to just walk away.)

  27. Nice work Patrick. The end justifies the means.
    A finished product is a wonderful ornament to the productive and creative forces within. Enjoy your success and understand that it is neither the start nor the finish- it is just what it is.
    Hope it all continues for you. Congratulations.B.

    • I love having my work called an ornament!

      Thank you for your loyal readership and support. Yes to neither start nor finish; that is the nature of the artist’s road.

  28. Your timeline was an inspiration to read…I am now considering applying for the low-residency program for art at MICA next year. Congrats on the publication thing.

    • Hello Virginia,

      How exciting about the possibility of you doing the MICA low-residency program! I’m well aware of that school and its reputation; I did not know it had a low-residency program. That sounds great. And thanks for the congrats!

  29. Congratulations on the upcoming publication of your memoir. I loved reading your timeline. It’s interesting that the big challenge was revealing more of yourself. I guess I’m not surprised. Most of us have trouble with that.

  30. Such fabulous news, Patrick! Thrilled and honored to have witnessed you on this journey! All best.

  31. Congratulations! Even whenw e feel we are sharing our souls, there always remain quiet, shadowy corners. It is tough to light them all up. I look forward to see your finished book!

  32. Awesome all around, Patrick. The project, the book, your commentary and sharing. What’s not to feel good about?!! Can’t wait to follow this into print and you . . . wherever🙂

  33. Patrick, I don’t know how a book gets chosen to appear on ShelfAwareness, but I’d love to see your book under “Biography & Memoir”🙂
    http://www.shelf-awareness.com/readers-issue.html?issue=300

    • I wasn’t aware of Shelf Awareness, but it looks great. Their contact page says I need to have my publisher send galley copies when they’re ready and then a final copy. I’ll encourage them to do so!

      We’re not anywhere close to galley right now. I’m taking a month to go through the manuscript one more time, in particular hoping I can shorten it a bit more. Then we’ll start the editing process together.

      • I hope you’re enjoying the whole process, Patrick—to finally be at this stage of the game🙂

        I only just started following Shelf Awareness a couple weeks ago (I get two of their emails each day—they have several!) because an agent I was researching had mentioned it and I’ve heard of it enough times over the years. I think if you can actually make it onto that site and into the email mailing, it’ll boost sales😀😀😀

  34. Congratulations, Patrick! I look forward to reading the book.

  35. VERY late to the party — my apologies! This is fantastic news, that much sweeter because of the long and winding Artist’s Road you took to get here. Like others, I love that you shared your timeline. I suspect it really began before September 2010. One doesn’t just take a five-week road trip to interview creative people on a whim…I smell a backstory. Will that be included in the memoir? Forgive me if I should already know what led you to take that trip. In any case, congratulations. It will give me great pleasure to purchase and read your book.

    • Thanks, Sue!

      Well, the origin and intent of the trip–both initially and as it evolved–are indeed told in the book. I have never fully articulated that here on the blog. But–and this will not surprise you, as a teacher of the memoir genre–there is a great deal revealed in the book that has not been revealed here on the blog. It advanced the literary narrative to have such reveals in the book, however, so there you have it!

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