Send the Artist Out for Coffee
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They say a kiss is just a flower that a bee might return from And do his little dance at the hive
Perhaps it’s worth mentioning as I write this song down I am the happiest f*cker alive Because the seashore cries out for a painter to paint it And the wind whips the water and the foam Because I am sad, sad, sad, sad And I’m far away from home.
Peter Mulvey – Sad, Sad, Sad, Sad (And Far Away From Home)
In that verse, Peter Mulvey captures what, for me, is the nature of my writing existence. My psyche suffers from whiplash during the struggle that is all but silent to those outside my mind. Almost every day I’m at the keyboard, working and writing, experiencing the joy of creating, the pleasure of a well-turned phrase. And also every day, I despair of my incompetence and my struggle to capture with words the images in my mind and my inexpertly woven story.
Then I tell the artist to go out for coffee or a walk or anything that will get him out of the house.
As soon as I hear the door close behind the poor wretch, I pick up my cell phone and invite the other guy over, the one with the rolled up sleeves, the pants with the greasy sheen on the thighs, and the utilitarian hands. He’s far less mercurial than the artist and doesn’t mind plowing ahead and taking time to build and tear down and build again. He can take whatever wreckage the artist created in frustration, slowly pull it apart, assess the value of the parts and begin putting them back together. This time the story may sit a bit lower than before, but I can climb it and jump off without worrying that it will collapse. I can look at the simplicity of the work and appreciate the structure as opposed to appreciating the complexity of the work and trying not to see the suspect framework.
And after the hard work is done, me and the builder, we have a beer and sit in silence and satisfaction at what we’ve created. The worker leaves and the artist arrives, a little ashamed. He takes in what we’ve done while he was gone and he nods. He knows the builder must come and that it’s better if the he, the artist, is not around when that time comes. Because the artist knows that he will again have his turn to make the work shine in the morning it is unveiled and every morning thereafter.
I like to think I’m not the only one.