I remember it being said that writers develop obsessions – certain things or subjects they have to write about. While that’s a topic all by itself, let’s just say that I know what I obsess about. It’s more of a character than a topic though. His name is Steigan (with the ei pronounced as a long e rather than the long a sound that it should make). His story was the last one I was working on when I gave up writing a few years ago and turned to art. I have a box full of research, hard copies of manuscript drafts, notes, etc. and the box weighs 41 pounds. Yes, that’s how big my baby is! Speaking of which, I started writing this monster a year before my oldest son came along. Steigan has been with me for a long, long, long time. I’ve had people offer to bring hot dogs and marshmallows to the bonfire when I’ve thought about purging him from my life. In my last dealings with him, I started writing his story as a graphic novel – it’s available out on Lulu if you want to go look up Sacred Knight, but it’s only just started and the artwork is basement art at best.
I’ve been feeling guilty for so long about not telling Steigan’s story. Every now and then, I hear him (oh yes, writers do hear the characters so I don’t feel crazy) telling me something that I need to remember or do. I’ve tried to be patient with him. But how do you ignore someone you love?
Okay, so what does all this have to do with painting? Subliminal messaging.
One evening without a whole lot of planning, I block in the painting below:
I put this castle in the painting later, then left it alone for the night. I came back to it later and was standing beside it watching tv when suddenly I felt someone watching me. Strange since I was all alone in the house at the time. I turned and saw this man in my painting. I grabbed a piece of charcoal and went to sketch him in. Ha ha! He thought he could hide from me. But when I got back to the canvas, he’d hidden in the bushes. I went back to watching tv. Shortly, with the charcoal still in my hand, I felt myself being watched again. This time, I didn’t take my eyes off him and just sketched him in.
It was a little odd with this guy that stood there than disappeared and reappeared. I didn’t work on the painting again for awhile. When my children came home, my son looked at it and commented on the guy in the painting. I told him my story about how he appeared. My son looked at me oddly, tilted his head, and said, “But Mom, he’s not looking at you. He’s looking at the castle.”
That night, I went to paint him in. I was still set on him staring out of the painting. But as I painted, I realized that the man was indeed looking at the castle. Another odd realization hit me. I realized that he was half as tall as the castle. Chills swept over me. It wasn’t a castle. It was a Channeling House. This was a special place used for focusing magic in Steigan’s story. I’d had a dream about these Channeling Houses shortly after I started Steigan’s story. I was really afraid that I was painting Steigan into my picture. I’d already done a painting about the Woman in White from Steigan’s story, but that was when I was still working on the graphic novel so it didn’t bother me so much that Steigan had once again crept back in my life. But now, when I’d finally managed to release the heart ache. If you’ve read my posts about writing, then you probably now realize the full scale of it. However, as I continued painting the man in, I realized that it wasn’t Steigan. It was another character from the story called Rivic.
Here it is below with the beginnings of the man showing up:
As I finished him up, I knew that Rivic wasn’t just there, but he’d come to get my attention. He’d come to remind me to look back, that even though the house was crumbling and falling apart, it was still there and still powerful. He was telling me that the story is still there and pulling me.
The picture isn’t nearly complete yet, but I figured I’d start with this much since I know there’s a long story wrapped up in this painting. And much like painting, I can’t give up on this story, Steigan’s story. I’ve spent the last week refreshing the story in my head and working out some of the kinks still in it.
For those of you that follow me on Twitter, you probably saw my tweet about working on a Doctor Who story for my boys. That shocked all my writing friends who’d given up hope on me. Yep, this week I’ve also spent time working on the story. Me, writing again. Okay, so it’s a story that will probably never see the light of day, but who knows. I think it’s a great piece of fan fiction with so much potential.
Could this floodgate of stories that’s been opened be due to Rivic entering my painting? Has he reminded me to focus my creative energies? The title of the painting is Looking Toward Yesterday. I know that Rivic is looking back into the memories of his past, but he will have to move on to tomorrow. He knows this and accepts it, but everything from his past will be carried into the future. It’s not a matter of carrying it around like painful baggage though. It’s more of letting it be. Rivic accepts it. I have felt more comfortable this week going between painting, Steigan, and Doctor Who than I’ve felt in a long time. My chest feels free of tension as I just let myself be. There are still stories I want to tell. I have so much work to be done if I’m going to do them in graphic novel format, which I realized after trying unsuccessfully to write Steigan’s story as a novel again and getting 4 agonizing sentences into it before giving up, but I’m willing to take the time. It takes a lot of work. I have to do the work as it comes, let it be and not force it. Discipline tempered with ease rather than a do or die attitude. Have fun with it.
Okay, I’ve yammered on for quite awhile. Let me ask you this: what is it that you feel uncomfortable with in your life? What is it that you’re not doing that you know you should be doing? If you look back toward yesterday, what will you be reminded to carry forward with you? Now, go out and do it!