Artistic License

I was reading an article in the December Elle about Lisa Stokes, a painter apparently known for her imaginative, and emotionally revealing work. The article detailed how Stokes became the muse of much older painter Robert Lenkiewicz – muse as in one of many. The eccentric old dude seemed to be a bit of a whore, but Stokes credits him with teaching her a great deal about the more technical aspects of painting and giving her courage, confidence, self-belief: “He made me feel very interesting…He was the first person to say, ‘You can do this.’ You really need someone like that.”

The article focused, however, not on the romance between Robert and Lisa but on the feelings inspired by her art. The article’s adjectives tell the tale quite effectively: eerie, vulnerable, inviolate, power.

“You never feel you’ve gone dark enough,” Stokes said. “You have to push yourself over the cliff.”

I identify with that sentiment completely. I often wonder how much to reveal, especially in online forums like blogs and on Facebook. Hell, Sherrod Story is a pen name, meant to provide me with a bit of security, to guard my passion for romance writing from any judgements my professional colleagues  might offer unsolicited.

My first instinct is to let it all hang out. I never do, though. The threat of judgement is too exact, too certain to chance revealing everything. After all, at $.99 in the Amazon Kindle store Fiona Love isn’t yet paying enough to completely give the finger to what the folks  on the job may have to say about her.

Now, in one respect that’s silly. Right now, I’m a relative romance writing nobody. In my mind I’m Patricia Cornwell, working in the morgue before she blew the hell up and became a millionaire, but that doesn’t change my before status. Perhaps when I reach the after, I won’t care. I’ll say exactly what I want, and more importantly, write exactly what I want.

But Lisa Stokes has inspired me to paint my work with a bit more color and truth, to bring out the things we like to keep hidden in dark closets, and air them on the clothesline of my fiction. Those tales are always so much more interesting to read, so much more passionate and telling, so much harder to forget. 

And I love stories like that.


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