A writer died, but upon arriving at the pearly gates, St. Peter told her she could decide if she wanted to go to hell or to heaven. He offered to give her a tour of each destination to help with her decision, so they went to hell first.
There in the fiery pits she saw rows of writers chained to their desks in a steamy sweatshop. Demons repeatedly whipped them with thorny lashes as they worked.
“Oh my,” she said, “let me see heaven.”
So they ascended, and there she saw rows of writers chained to their desks in a steamy sweatshop. Angels repeatedly whipped them with thorny lashes as they worked.
“Hold on,” she said. “This is no different from hell.”
“Oh yes, it is,” St. Peter replied. “Here, your work gets published.”
Although it’s too late for the protagonist in the above anecdote, this past week I was reminded of the saying “What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger.” That’s a good theme for a story full of danger and intrigue, but the philosophy can also apply to writing – and the life it mirrors.
My browser and cell phone decided to synchronize going kaput. Luckily I don’t experience anxiety when separated from the virtual world, but it did put a hitch in my get-along. The pain and suffering was caused by the processes of fixing/replacing those problems. Nothing was life threatening, of course, but it was still an annoyance that managed to trigger some inspiration.
That’s one of the ironies about suffering: If we lived in a world where dismemberment and broken bones never happened, stubbing your toe would send you collapsing to the floor and wailing, “Oh, Lord, why me?”
And our own suffering makes us more empathetic to the suffering of others. When we see others suffer, we want to help them, which is a good. Even in a fictional setting, you wouldn’t care if the hero of the story gets out of the dilemma he’s in if you’ve never faced a dilemma of your own.
Sure, we agree we’d rather avoid suffering. But since there’s no avoiding it, we might as well try to take some comfort in believing good could come of it.
Just think of those writers who are going to get published….