Dispelling the Cliché of the Tortured Artist

We've all heard it before in some form or another.  Whether it's the crazed writer in a movie, or the insane and tortured artist, it is a strange (and sometimes pervading) idea and cliché that to be a great artist, you have to be insane, or crazy, or tortured.  And as much as I'd like to think that these kinds of ideas are viewed as antiquated in 2018, they are very much alive…

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Films that Made Me a Better Writer/Storyteller: Through a Glass Darkly, directed by Ingmar Bergman (1961)

When writers discuss their biggest influences, most likely they will talk about other writers who have impacted or shaped them.  And while I have a huge number of influences from literature, I am also deeply influenced by cinema…

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Love in the City, a short story

This is a short story I wrote years ago for an online creative writing class in community college.  Of the pieces I wrote for that class, this was always my favorite, so much to the point that I have kept it and since edited it.  The assignment was to choose from a selection of photographs and write a short story inspired by one of them.  The photograph I chose was of a young man and young woman seated near a mirror; the woman was putting makeup on, and the man had no shirt.

This being the first time I've ever kept a blog, one I intend to continue anyway, I figured the best way to begin would be with a sample of my writing.  Hope you like it!  And do feel free to comment and tell me your thoughts.  It's a short one.
 

Love in the City

A short story by Cody Lakin

Annie dabbed on the last bit of rose-red lipstick, bit her mouth inward a few times, and stared into the mirror without smiling.  She had always loved the serious look that makeup gave her.  It brought out a refined maturity in her eyes that she wished were always there, lent a sensuous fullness to her lips, and when applied correctly it brought out the stark black of her hair in contrast to the rest of her features.

    “There,” she said.  “All done.  You can stop complaining now.”

    “I wasn’t complaining,” Alex said in the chair beside her.  They made eye-contact through the mirror and he grinned.  “I’ve just been sitting here, you know, not complaining, as usual.”

    Annie smirked and shook her head at him.  “You know you love me.”

    “Sure.  Just enough to sit here for an hour watching you criticizing yourself in the mirror.”

    “An hour.  Please.”  She got up and opened the sliding-glass door.  The sounds of the city below assailed the room: honking horns, people shouting, sirens somewhere in the distance.  Slowly she walked out onto the hotel room’s pathetic balcony.  There was hardly enough space for two people on the balcony, so Alex stayed sitting in his chair, his shirt off, hair typically swept upward at the front but also mildly unkempt at the back from having been on his back on the bed.

    He watched her with longing and something like concern on his face.  He was a jokester, typically, and as funny as she thought he was, his serious side—a reflection of hers—was the part of him she loved best.

    “You okay?” he said.

    She nodded wordlessly and looked out at the city.  She had always hated it.  She sighed through her nose, shut her eyes for a moment.  “I think I’d like to live in the mountains.”

    “The mountains?  What, like Montana?”

    “I don’t know.  Somewhere other than here.  It gets tiring, you know?”  She turned so she was facing him, leaning her back against the metal railing, and forced a smile.  He watched her over his shoulder, returned her smile, shrugged his shoulders.

    “I don’t know,” he said.

    Again she nodded, and then looked down at her bare feet on the cold concrete.  She felt suddenly tired.  The motivation to be happy, to put on her usual playful act with him, had drained away.  She was glad it had gone so well earlier.  He had a way of making her feel better—and making love with him sometimes felt too good to be true—but now she wanted nothing more than to be asleep, or to be resting somewhere away from the constant noise of the city and the watchful eyes of others.  Most of all she didn’t want to go to the party..

    A gentle breeze began to blow, causing strands of hair to slash across her face.

    “You look beautiful, by the way,” he said, turning halfway around in his chair to look at her.  Again she feigned a smile for him but didn’t say anything.  Then he said something that she didn’t expect.  “Do you think they have any idea?”

    “Who?”

    “Mom and Dad.”

    In a way, that was exactly what had been on her mind.  It had been on her mind since they had first started going places together, staying nights at hotels, attending parties as if they were a dating couple.  “Shut up.”  She turned away from him, faced the lights of the city once more.  The skyline was silhouetted against the twilight.  She would have called it beautiful, but right now she hated it more than she ever had.  You were never alone in the city, and you were always alone in the city.

    “Isn’t that what’s worrying you?” he asked.  She heard him get up, probably meaning to come over and hug her, make her feel better again.

    “Shut the fuck up, Alex.  I don’t wanna talk about it.”

    “I’m just worried about you.”

    She sighed and bowed her head.  “I know.”  She wanted to tell him that she was grateful for how he was always dealing with her, always making her feel less empty, less lonely, less depressed all of the time, but she had never been emotionally open, not even with him.  That wasn’t the type of thing she would have shared with him, anyway.

    “We don’t have to go to the party if you don’t want.”

    Then she turned around and actually did smile at him.  “Thanks.”

    He smiled back.  “Hey, no problem.  Whatever you want, Annie.”

    “You can still go if you want to.”

    “Nah.”  He shrugged.  “I don’t really care either way.”

    “All right.  Well, looks like we’ve got the rest of the evening to do whatever we want.” She walked past him and sat down on the bed, smiling.  She patted the space beside her, and he grinned in response.  “Hey,” she said. “What about you?  You think Mom and Dad have any idea?  Any… I don’t know… suspicions?”

    He chuckled.  “I don’t know.  I doubt it.”

    “Yeah,” she said, her smile fading a little bit, at least in her eyes.  “I guess it doesn’t really matter.”  She reached her arms out toward him.  “Anyway, come here.”

    He moved toward her, and no more words needed to be said.