Just finished Patti Smith's great new memoir which won the 2010 National Book Award. I got it for Christmas and finished it quickly. Patti tells this great story about her life in the late 1960s as she and her close friend and sometime lover, Robert Mapplethorpe, embarked on a life of creativity in New York City. As the story describes, they both consciously work on their art, together, separately, and earnestly. It really can happen like this, I guess. But as this book makes clear, there is a lot of thought, sweat and concentration that goes into art and a life of art.
I was particularly struck by Mapplethorpe's drive to be famous. His belief in himself - that he was as bood (or better) than Warhol - and his assault on the established NY alternative art scene (irony intended).
I recommend the book. To get you started listen to this interview with Patti that Terry Gross conducted recently. This was my entry point, too. Listen to the Interview