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.

Dr. B

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10 Comments on “The Suffering Artist”

  1. danny fulks Says:

    This too has passed. Hope your doc had a narcotic handy. Had two–they come every ten years so you can relax for awhile.

  2. Sounds unpleasant. I’ve tagged you, so come on over to Delicacies and take a look!!! A little diversion, maybe?

    • drtombibey Says:

      Ms delicate,

      It was a rough go, but today is brighter. Will drop by your site here in a little bit. Thanks for the invite.

      Dr. B

  3. Mrs. Chili Says:

    I’ve heard, from numerous sources, that kidney stones are the Devil’s own torture. I’m so, so sorry.

    I disagree with the people who think that folks have to “suffer” to create “decent” art. Why do we tend to value pain over joy?

    • drtombibey Says:


      I agree with you 100%. I’ve never been thru childbirth of course, but I celebrate the children and not the suffering.

      And as for a kidney stone it is good riddance!

      So good to hear from you. I have some meetings scheduled with publishers in Sept. I picked out my editor mostly because she was good, but also I wanted a woman’s touch to be in the mix.

      With each baby step in the process, I always think of how you cheered me on when I got started, and I’ll never forget it. A man who wants to be a writer needs several women in his life; a Mom, a wife, a daughter, an editor, and at least one on-line English teacher among others.

      You took on the English teacher role for me, the gap in my life I should not have ignored so much as a kid. May your students always listen to you. If they don’t have them talk to me.

      Dr. B

  4. Hi Dr B
    Your post reminded me of an old Australian expression: When you’re in a mood it is said you have $#!* on your liver. Talking about it helps get the $#!* off your liver. Downunder there seems to be a national philosophy that the body collects emotions and stores them as sensations (usually pain). My sister (a paramedic) would say you’ve been holding on to something that should be flowing naturally. Passing a stone is letting go. I thought you’d get a kick out of this little analogy. I always do.

    • drtombibey Says:


      You are a wise woman of incredible intuition. I am on the last day of this last deep revision of ‘The Mandolin Case,’ and have promised my editor I would turn it in by midnight EST here in the States.

      How you women can figure out these things from half way around the world is beyond me.

      Dr. B

  5. newt221 Says:

    Glad to hear that you are doing a lot better. They had to go “in” to get my stone. Not any fun at all. Don’t ever want another one!!!! So, not so happy to see that they might come every ten years! That makes me over due.

    You are right about the suffering and coming out on the other side. I am not sure who the singer is but there is a country song that says that when you are going through h**l just keep on going. You might make it out before the devil knows you are there.

    I have had to keep telling myself that all that I have been through recently has been character building. Beth Moore also says something to the affect that if you don’t have any dings and dents in you, you might be on the wrong road….LOL When life is over, you are suppose to say “what a ride”

    • drtombibey Says:

      Ms. Cindy,

      Don’t worry too much. Stones are very unpredictable. However, when they are small once they get in the bladder, usually the horse is headed to the barn.

      My wife likes Beth Moore and has been to several of her talks. You guys might have run into each other and not even known it.

      Dr. B

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