When Your Art-Committed Life is at Low Tide

Boise, Idaho, home of Rochelle Smith, one of the artists whose wisdom is shared in my post on Melissa Cronin's blog.
Boise, Idaho, home of singer/songwriter Rochelle Smith, one of the artists whose wisdom is shared in my post on Melissa Cronin’s blog.

For more than four years I’ve blogged here about the “challenges and rewards of living an art-committed life,” as the mini-bio to the right says. I launched this blog in part to keep me honest, to ensure I wouldn’t once again stray from the creative path. A question I’ve been asking myself this winter, as I struggled through a creative dark patch, is this: Can you truly say you’re living an art-committed life if you’re not spending a lot of time creating art? Or, more narrowly, can you call yourself a creative writer if you’re not writing creatively?

I explore this question in a guest post for memoirist and essayist Melissa Cronin. In it we meet again some of the artists I interviewed in my cross-country road trip in Committed: A Memoir of the Artist’s Road, as I am still learning from those encounters. I hope to see you over at Melissa’s blog!

11 thoughts on “When Your Art-Committed Life is at Low Tide

    1. pjreece

      Hey, Ross… but the truth smells wonderful. You made me laugh. You know what “voice” is that everyone talks about? Voice is truth leaking through. You’ve got it right there. I want more!


  1. Patrick, I follow your blog but I haven’t yet read your book. I enjoyed your guest post. The artists we meet on any journey can have inspiring insights that we don’t realise we may need on our own future paths. The tide has been out in my creative life for a while too, and it’s time for me to crack that ice and let it flow back in. Thank you for this.


    1. Thank you for being a reader, Susan, and for this comment. I hope the ice-breaking proceeds well for you, and be sure to savor each bit of liquid that flows through. Each is a victory.


  2. Fantastic post, Patrick!

    I don’t think any reasonable soul would blame you for feeling like the tide went out for a while once ‘Committed’ was released. Even the rounds of interviews and personal appearances were creative endeavours, in the sense that they drain that stuff out of you (“okay, we’re going to interview you about your new book, so we need you to be interesting, funny and informative… three, two, one – GO!”) After all that, you needed a REST, m’dear! 😉

    I think my favourite analogy is the one in Julia Cameron’s book ‘The Artists’ Way,’ where she likened the creative brain to a well. As you devote yourself to creating a particular something (or things) you gradually drain the creative waters of that well, until you get to a point where you have to stop for a while and allow it to fill back up again (i.e. stop peering down the empty well for a bit and wait for the rains to come.) So maybe us creative types should be more patient with ourselves in the dry times. And when the rain starts to fall again (and it always does, eventually) we should probably go dance in it 🙂


    1. Thanks, Wendy! And I like the Cameron analogy; it’s been twenty years since I read “The Artist’s Way,” and I’ll confess to not remembering that analogy. It is evocative of what author and creative writing instructor Erin Ergenbright told me on the road trip in Portland, Oregon, that sometimes our creative “tank” can run dry, using (I presumed) a gas tank analogy. That is, in some respects, different from Cameron’s; we have to wait for it to rain, but we can proactively seek out a gas station. I think for me the reality falls somewhere in between.


  3. I went through “The Artist’s Way” recently, and it is very challenging. I don’t really think an artist or a writer has to be doing their craft every single day to call themselves that. I don’t even think an artist has to have sold anything to call themselves one; same with writing. Just my two cents there. I look forward to exploring your blog, Patrick. I just revamped my WordPress blog a little bit. Come on over and take a look! http://patsyscreativecorner.com/


  4. Alexandra

    I’m only 15 but yet I spend 24/7 writing, reading and creating art. I have made one book not sold or published, I have painted two pictures never seen and I have read every genre of books. This is my passion. I don’t need to be labelled to know my talents and others.


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