The Suffering Artist
I have no legitimate claim to the title ‘suffering artist,’ although at 1:30 AM as I writhed around with my little kidney stone buddy I might have tried to lay claim to it.
I’m better today. I stopped to figure it up, and as best I can tell I have missed a total of 5 1/2 days of work in a long career as a Doc due to illness. (I had my other stone on my day off.) And when I am sick, I have a fine wife who makes magical chicken soup, and access to any kind of Doc I need. I don’t see how anyone could have had a more blessed life than me.
As we got in the car yesterday to go to the urologist, the first song to come on was “Talk About Suffering Here Below.’ It hurt to laugh, but I couldn’t help it. I felt like the Good Lord sent that one to me to remind me the Devil sends the stones, but He is against ’em and will see you through.
I am on my last major edit of ‘The Mandolin Case’ before we present it to a publisher. I figure my stone gives me the one last argument I needed to convince them.
I can just hear it now. “Son, I am sure this is a nice story, but we like to sign artists who have suffered. It seems to me you have had a picket fence life; a nice wife and 2 1/2 children. What could you know about suffering?”
I’m gonna say, “Well sir, much of what you say is true. I have been blessed. But I’ve seen a lot of suffering. One major objective I have as a writer is to pay tribute to those folks, and to the human spirit that allows them to persevere in the hard times.”
Then I’m gonna say, “Besides that sir, you are an artist, too. And just because you are now a successful CEO at a major publishing company doesn’t mean you haven’t suffered. You know how edits go. My last one went so deep that I writhed around on the couch all night long to get it out. I suffered as bad as a man would with a kidney stone. I gave it everything I had. I think folks will want to read the work of an artist who has suffered like that.”
And the good news is it is all true. That stone was rough, but I might as well put the suffering to good use. After all, that is the exact concept that inspired ‘The Mandolin Case.’ Suffering has a purpose if we can just get to the other side to see what that purpose was.
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