Keeping Track of My Stuffing Bits

by Cheryl Owen-Wilson

This is a very busy time of year for submitting my artwork, as there are several available shows overlapping one another. One in particular, the annual Day of The Dead exhibit, is dear to my heart because it was my very first acceptance from a juried show.  Big surprise, Cheryl’s brain gets excited when thinking up ideas involving painting dead people, skeletons, or cemeteries.

But…you might ask, what does this have to do with writing? Well, it is the age-old dilemma of serving two masters.  A member of my writing group once commented, “It must be nice having two very different ways of expressing yourself.” In theory yes, however in practice it can be…challenging and on those days I am the rag doll two children wish to play with. Painting is tugging one hand and writing the other, the result is me being torn in two with my stuffing bits (ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc.) spilled out over a keyboard or newly stretched canvas.  Sometimes it takes me hours to stitch myself back together. This year’s been more difficult than usual. When considering submissions for the 2013 Day of the Dead exhibit, my painting muse came up with not one, but three ideas. Thus, my current story has sat untouched for several weeks and is most unhappy. A few days ago I was contemplating the final touches on the last painting, when my unfinished story began to pull and the painting began to scream and well, the result was my stuffing bits being strewn hither and yon.  Afterward, I lay there trying desperately to put myself back together and in my exhaustion fell asleep.

The painting spoke first, “If only she’d have put me in the story in the first place we never would’ve come to this, just look at her, laying there like a lump on the floor. Is she asleep?  Oh no, she can’t be asleep. She has to get my face done before I dry.  I have only a top lip and she’ll never be able to match this color on my bottom one if it dries!”

The story replied, “Stop whining. You’ve had all her attention for days now and you have no idea the mess she has left me in. But you do have a good thought.  I mean you are a Day of the Dead Steampunk woman and I… well I could be a Steampunk world with a tweak or two. Come to think of it, you do look a great deal like the auburn haired protagonist introduced here on my first page. Her name is E.  She’s not dead, but give Cheryl time to finish me and I know someone will definitely be dead.  What’s your name?”

The red-headed painting shrugged. “I have no idea, she’s been struggling with my name for days.  E you said, I like the sound of it.  Look, I have an idea.  She’s almost finished me and I have to dry before I go to the photographer. How about we compromise here? You leave her alone with me and I promise, by the time she’s done I’ll be E and she’ll rush to your side and not leave you until she writes, The End. Deal?“

The story ruffled its pages and muttered, “Deal.”

When I woke, I felt refreshed, renewed and all my bits were back in place. Later, as I stepped back from my easel, to admire my signed and finished Day of the Dead meets Steampunk painting I had the most brilliant idea. I turned and gazed at the pages of my story and a shiver ran up my spine; could it be set in a Steampunk world?  I looked at my painting and one letter escaped my lips, “E?”

Yes, some days it’s a test, to serve two masters. But I can handle it. I just have to keep better track of my stuffing bits, is all…right?

Day of The Dead Meets Steampunk

Day of The Dead Meets Steampunk

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