I just read Patti Smith’s autobiography, Just Kids, an amazing account of her early years in 1970s New York City just starting out with lover, lifetime friend and muse Robert Mapplethorpe. It’s about being an artist above all else. Reading this book makes me realize several things:
- Patti Smith is a genius. She’s incredibly well-read, completely enamored of the context and history of every moment, and has a terrific command of language. I am ridiculously jealous. Also, I love her hair.
- It’s very, very important to write all the time. Patti Smith kept a journal every day of her life, and from this she drew pages and pages of deeply detailed memory for Just Kids. It’s not magic; it’s just hard work and discipline.
- Some might see it as hard-headedness, but I found Patti and Robert’s intense self-confidence about their art revealing and inspiring. The lesson: you’re more likely to succeed if you actually believe in yourself and your work.
- Once you find a muse, never let him or her go. Patti and Robert tried living romantically at first, but their ability to inspire each other and prompt better and better work ultimately became the most important (and lasting) part of their relationship.