I’m reading The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain, and I’m smitten with it. This comes as no surprise, considering–right or wrong–I have always loved Hemingway. So for this Monday, I thought I’d share an excerpt from
McLain’s book which especially resonated with me. The scene takes place shortly after they move to Paris. Perhaps you’ll glean something from it, too.
“Why is it every other person you meet says they’re an artist? A real artist doesn’t need to as on about it, he doesn’t have time. He does his work and sweats it out in silence, and no one can help him at all.”
I could certainly see how hanging around cafes all day wasn’t work, but I also wondered if everyone was as serious and inflexible about their craft as Ernest was. I imagined there were lots of other writers who worked in their own houses and could tolerate conversation at breakfast, for instance. Who managed to sleep through any given night without stewing or pacing or scratching at a notebook while a single candle smoked an wavered. I missed Ernest’s company all day, but he didn’t seem to miss mine, not while there was work to do. When he craved contact he stopped in to visit the Cezannes and Monets at the Musee du Luxembourg, believing they had already done what he was striving for–distillng places and people and objects to their essential qualities. Cezanne’s river was thik and brown and realer for it. That’s what Ernest was after–and sometimes the going was achingly slow. Many days he came home looking exhausted, defeated, as if he’d been struggling with sacks of coal all day long instead of with one sentence at a time.”
Artistry is often most difficult for the ones who love the artist most.
Because the artist is a wandering, pondering and restless soul, like a motherless, long-weaned calf seeking the teat of a heifer to guide and feed what already nourishes it’s spirit.
Often, if not always, the truest Monet and Cezanne the artist seeks walks and sleeps and wakes beside them each and every day.
How do you make sure the ones you love are cherished as much as you cherish your craft?
Have you read The Paris Wife? What did you think about the book?