The Fourth

When you envision a struggling artist, what do you see?

I usually picture Einstein pulling at his moustache and banging his head against a table. Is it strange that I use Einstein as an example for a struggling artist? I believe that artists and scientists are similar in that they’re trying to prove something or bring something into the physical world that wasn’t defined in so many words, formulas or illustrations.

I have no doubt that Einstein felt frustration. Just look at his theory of relativity. How long did it take him to find the words to express his calculations? Did he struggle with simplifying his ideas?

On this same note, how long did it take Picasso to create L’Atelier a Cannes? Or when Leo Tolstoy was struck by the idea for War and Peace, did he rack his brain and pull his hair out of frustration? Go days without eating or drinking or bathing?

This is the image I have of struggling artists: magnificent minds reaching for the proper medium in order to articulate their study…and millions of hours sacrificing their social life, their hygiene, and their health in order to finish the project.

I am nowhere near Einstein’s genius. Neither am I Picasso nor will I ever aspire to be anywhere near Tolstoy’s importance.

But I am a struggling artist. I sink into a project and emerge hungry, thirsty, eyes blinking stupidly, and my brain mushy and cold like yesterday’s oatmeal. I often wonder why I keep trying when my books have been rejected.

Then a jewel of a survey crosses my computer screen and I tell myself “this is why.” A recent survey confessed that even though the excerpt was hard to read, after a fourth perusal, the reader felt completely fascinated by the subject and would love to read more of the book.

At first I was overjoyed. I pumped my fist in the air and shouted. “I have a reader! That’s one!!”

But then I sat back and really read the survey.

They had to read the excerpt four times.

How many people would go into Barnes and Noble and read the beginning of a book four times before they decided to buy the book?

I was instantly humbled. I would never buy a book if the introduction didn’t interest me. At the same time, I am deeply touched by this person who loyally read the excerpt more than once just to understand the theme…which means I have a lot of rewriting to do, a lot of hair pulling and perhaps, just perhaps, the beginning of an audience.

As Einstein has been quoted many times: “There are two ways to live your life: one is as though nothing is a miracle, and the other is as though everything is a miracle.”

I wonder which way this budding audience leans?

In the face of this project, every survey is a miracle because I didn’t think anyone would participate. But here I am, here you are, and what a miracle that we’re meeting every day because of an artistic idea.

Published in: on January 4, 2010 at 11:42 am  Leave a Comment  

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