"I really do think that art can save you in some sense. It's the last meaning, unless you're religious — and I'm not religious. It's the only secular vehicle for transcendence we have. It's an immediate self-validating experience. It lifts you beyond your mortal clay."
Art is a form of salvation. Through art we can discover something beyond ourselves to believe in. Through art we can discover who we are and who we are meant to be. Through our art we may even find eternal life. We can live beyond the grave.
The story of Sam Savage provides hope for all unrecognized painters, poets and novelists. He toiled for years as an unpublished writer. At the age of 55 he gave up writing. A part of him died. At the age of sixty, he picked up the pen again and wrote. He said: "I started writing again because I'd given up. I didn't expect anything from it." In 2006, Coffee House Press published his first novel, Firmin, told from the perspective of a book eating rat. The novel became an international best seller.
Sam said in an interview with Kevin Larimer, "I just sort of quit — gave up completely. I was fifty-five years old and I just gave up. And it was total and sincere." I believe he probably gave up because he felt like a failure. And society would probably call him a failure. But I don't think he was. We make a mistake when we think that one has to be published to be a success.
For me, success comes from the creative process itself. If you create, you are a success. The marketing and selling of the work is a business issue. Just because there is not an audience for your work does not make you less successful as an artist. Don't confuse the business of art with the creative process. Remember that the creation of artistic works is a form of spiritual salvation.