Tag Archives: creative artist

Your Spouse as a Collaborator

Monty and his wife Pat

If you are a creative artist producing and publishing in the public arena, the focus of attention as a married couple will generally spotlight you.  Your wife or husband can thus become a background character in the wings of your stage-like life.  And although your spouse suffers the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that are part of your creative career, the credit for endurance and any success is usually accredited to you alone. Your spouse is too often unfairly treated as second fiddle in a one-man band.  Worse yet, they become subconsciously considered a live-in groupie.

Monty speaking in Chicago bookstore. Photo by Pat Joynes

Some spouses of creative artists survive the attention focused on their mates by generating very successful careers in their own right.  They become doctors, lawyers, or Indian chiefs and thus can attain status by being introduced as such.  But if spouses are creative artists, too, the competition for success usually overwhelms the marriage.

How can the career artist solve the perceived-worth dilemma of the partner when all the daily evidence points to the slavish demands of the art?  Is devoted service to the artist’s production the purpose and destiny of the spouse’s life?

Pat at a Chicago bookstore signing

In our long marriage of nearly thirty years, my wife Pat and I have had to confront these questions.  People in the literary and publishing trades who know us assure me that Pat makes me as an artist possible.  Otherwise, by inference, I am impossible.  I have to admit that their observations are valid.  I am dyslexic; and if Pat were not a great copy editor, every one of my manuscripts would doubtlessly fall at least a letter grade.  Pat also has infinite patience where I have only a fingernail hold on it.

I married Pat, however, for the presence of her inner light, her beautiful, unselfish, compassionate soul.  All our friends and associates recognize her in this way; and when we are in the same room, I am second-banana to my beloved wife.

When American Indian elders read the Booker Series novels and wanted to

Photo by Pat Joynes

challenge me as the Anglo author, it was Pat whom they trusted first.  It was Pat who was invited into the Cherokee Nation as the Chosen Daughter of a Greatly Beloved Cherokee Grandmother and was named Morning Song in a tribal ceremony.

Pat has been included in all our book research trips.  She did a lot of the trip planning and backed up my location observations with photographs.  As a former magazine editor of photography, I soon realized that Pat had a photographer’s eye for content and composition, and I began to rely on her pictures in the writing of visual descriptions in my books.  Our trips together for her were sometimes respites from the household responsibilities that included three teenaged daughters.

Here are a few of Pat’s photographs that she had contributed to our book projects as well as some of her personal favorites.

On set of CELESTINE PROPHECY movie. Photo by Pat Joynes

Monty on the movie set of THE CELESTINE PROPHECY

On movie set of THE CELESTINE PROPHECY.

Movie location of CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD, Ashland, OR.

New Mexico roadside, location of novel DEAD WATER RITES. Photo by Pat Joynes

Alaska, location of novel JAMES MASON LIVES! Photo by Pat Joynes

Our street. Photo by Pat Joynes

Our dog Heidi on a local mountaintop.

A snowy day at home

Bass Lake, Blowing Rock, NC

Bryce National Park

Evening at Bass Lake

For any married artist, your spouse is both your companion and your career partner.  When you realize that you can have no success, no happiness, and no satisfaction from your art if your marriage doesn’t work, you will begin to celebrate your spouse as he or she deserves.

Photo by Jim Dillinger

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What every lover should know about the creative artist. Part Three

The lover in Monty's case is Pat

What can lovers and friends do when they recognize a creative artist in their midst?

The young person struggling with artistic impulses is vulnerable in the formative years.  Without the maturity of craft and experience, the need for lessons, coaching, and educational support is essential.

In fact, the artist’s need to learn and explore never ends.  The creative person remains an avaricious student their entire life.  Formal education is often too structured and limiting for the impatient potential artist so guidance is important at this stage of development to assure a good background.  A painter who does not understand the history of his art form will always be limited by what he or she does not know.  A novelist who has no critical perspective of his genre is destined to mediocrity.  Many localities offer special programs for the gifted and talented.  Acceptance in their educational program should be the goal of the creative aspirant.

By the late teens and early twenties, the creative personality will do well to find a mentor, an older person in her artistic field who can serve as teacher and advisor.  Mentors open the door on the real life of what it means to pursue art.  The struggle and the compromises of adult life become evident as art as a profession is revealed.  Most acolytes of art never progress beyond this stage.  Although they do not choose the sacrifices of the artist’s life, they can become an especially qualified audience for appreciation of the art form.

Beyond the early stages of recognition of talent and the acquisitions of basic education and skills, the creative artist needs an opportunity for growth and refinement.  Since it is usually impossible to earn a livelihood from purely artistic productivity, practical compromises must be made.  The natural urge toward marriage and children further complicates the equation.  Families are required to make significant financial and lifestyle sacrifices if they are to support a creative artist member.  It is a difficult role to play because it is easy to see the artist as a selfish, willfully exploitive human being whose personal interests outweigh the comforts and concerns of the family.  If dedication is a prerequisite of the artist, it is also a necessary quality of his or her enduring family.

If the goal of the lover can be the same as the artist—the consistent completion of artistic work—then the lover and the artist can take joy in the productivity.

You may have noticed in this blog that entries will try not to become gender specific because the blogger is male.  In a general commentary, the pronouns will often alternate between paragraphs.  As a man with three daughters and five granddaughters, the blogger intends to be as gender inclusive as possible.

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What every lover should know about the creative artist. Part 1

If you have ever lived with one or loved one, you know that the creative artist is a complex character seemingly devoted to emotional contradictions.  For hundreds of years, writers, painters, sculptors, composers, and musicians have made self-defenses of their passions and life styles.  The efforts extend pity to paradox, and the divorces and estrangements continue from age to age.

 There are many common elements of the creative personality that form a syndrome of their peculiar malady.  If the disease can be identified and isolated, perhaps there can be an understanding of the behavior of the patient.

 First of all, let’s define what we mean by a creative artist.  The creative artist creates a body of work.  The definition is not dependent on whether the work is published, produced, or performed.  Each piece, long or short, must be completed, however, and a compilation of past and planned projects must demonstrate that serious work is being done on a continual basis over a period of years.

 An individual who writes one novel, one play, or one symphony and then quits because the work was not accepted is not a creative artist.  The creative artist cannot quit no matter what his circumstance.  If the society condemns his work, he will become furtive, go underground, but he will nevertheless be productive.

 You can identify the creative artist by his persistence to produce work in spite of poverty and rejection.  There may be very productive periods and very unproductive periods depending on circumstances, but the creative artist is always working at his art.

 Pretenders at being creative artists can talk for hours about their plans and ideas, but they will have no continuum of finished work to show for all their talk and emotion.

The creative artist has finished work to show.

The creative artist creates in spite of all financial and interpersonal obstacles.

 The creative artist may perform other occupations.  She may even do commercial work within her discipline, but no work outside of her creative production satisfies her.  If happiness can be defined as inner peace and tranquility, the creative process is her only real, unqualified joy.  No matter what emotions were involved in the arrival at the creative moment, beyond the anger and the tears.  The moment of creation is pure delight.

 If your artistic friend seems moody and distant at times, it is because he is in the creative process.  He is experiencing the withdrawal symptoms between bursts of creative energy.  He is a creative junkie waiting for the next fix of creative juices.

The creative artist can experience unqualified happiness only in the solitary moments of the creative act.  She is often inept emotionally outside of that experience.  When she is concentrating on a large work, she has little or no energy left for other activities.  That’s why she flops into bed and sleeps for ten hours at a time.  That’s why she watches too much television and ignores the household chores.

 The creative artist has an innate drive and passion for his art that is genetic.  A long evolution has produced him.  He is programmed by nature to express himself in literature, or marble, or with musical instruments.  Often in his lifetime, he will wish that he could cast off the impractical yoke of this insatiable desire, and some fight it to their own mental and physical destruction.  The will to art is not always a welcome passion.  It often seems to the individual a cruel joke that denies choice and free will.

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