Wendy Christopher's Reviews > Committed: A Memoir of the Artist's Road

Committed by Patrick Ross
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it was amazing
bookshelves: memoir, thought-provoking, recommend
Recommended for: anyone who likes memoirs

I've read a few memoirs/autobiographies in the past. They have mostly been written by comedians - not sure why I'm drawn to them in particular, but they've never disappointed so I'm not going to analyse it too deeply. I've read one memoir written by a writer - 'On Writing,' by Stephen King. But I was drawn to reading 'Committed' after discovering Patrick Ross's online blog; something about his engaging, conversational tone and genuinely sincere interaction with his 'audience' made me confident that I would enjoy reading his story. Little did I know just how much he would exceed my expectations above and beyond that with this book.

On the face of it, 'Committed' might appear to be simply the story of one man's road trip across America, interviewing artists and 'creative types' as part of a government-funded campaign for protecting the creative rights of artists. And, at least in the beginning, it's clear that's how Patrick himself views it too. But this is because he is a 'buried creative,' investing his energies in championing the creativity in others in order to distract himself from following his own artistic path. As he travels through various states interviewing creative people of all ages and from all walks of life, their words have an effect on him, making him question his own life choices. Patrick's road trip evolves into not just a geographical but emotional journey, unearthing old insecurities and wrestling with inner demons from his past - including his Bipolar Disorder. After much soul-searching, he eventually reconciles all of this with his drive to live an art-committed life.

What I loved most about this book - and there is a lot to love - is that Patrick is unflinchingly honest throughout. He doesn't sugar-coat the behaviour (or his opinions on it) of any of the people in this story - including his own. This makes for uncomfortable reading on a couple of occasions, but only in the way that it should be; Patrick is not afraid to dig deep into his soul and allow the reader to feel his pain along with him. But at the same time this is never done in a self-pitying or self-absorbed way; he gives each 'character'(for want of a better word, since they are all real-life people) their moment in the spotlight with great respect and generosity, never once jumping in front of them with the literary equivalent of "but anyway, now back to me..." In a memoir, it takes a skilled writer to achieve that balance, and Patrick succeeds admirably. Here's the thing; while I can be touched and deeply affected by things I've read in books, I don't cry when I read them. Never happened to me before, ever. Until I read this one. Maybe it's because I'd been following his blog before then, which made it feel more like I was learning the story of a person I sort-of-knew-even-though-we'd-never-met (the internet's weird like that, isn't it?) But you don't have to know anything about Patrick beforehand to love this book. You don't even have to be a 'creative type' yourself, because it's about so much more than that. It's about the human spirit, facing your fears, the understanding that leads to forgiveness, and finding the courage to trust your own instincts.
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Reading Progress

November 3, 2014 – Started Reading
November 8, 2014 – Shelved
November 8, 2014 – Shelved as: memoir
December 17, 2014 – Finished Reading
December 20, 2014 – Shelved as: thought-provoking
December 20, 2014 – Shelved as: recommend

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