Many cliches are harmless enough. What damage has the hackneyed expression "think outside the box" ever inflicted on anyone?
For me, however, the "tortured" artist cliche has lately become more bothersome. Biographies about miserable and misanthropic individuals who have created towering art fight for space on bestseller lists. Historical fiction (sic) is rife with stories about poets, musicians, architects, etc. who are abusive serial philanderers or... alcoholic narcissistic gamblers or... insanely controlling and still in the closet. Recently, I found myself fairly agitated by an innocuous discussion about the eccentricities creative "types" supposedly share.
Where does being without the tortured badge leave me? You? I've never had the courage to call myself an artist despite a lifetime spent creating. But lately I've been reflecting - Is it possible I never claimed that community because I've been without the badge? Put another way - Did the cliche so fully take hold in me that it turned into an exclusionary stereotype?
I challenge you to pay closer attention to future conversations about artists and creativity. Notice how frequently this confining cliche - in all its permutations - is mentioned. Then tell me about it. And, if you know any non-tortured artists, tell them this non-tortured blogger would like to hear from them. I'll take it from there.