Saturday, February 26, 2011

Some More Thoughts on Writing Schedules.

This is a portrait I did a few years ago of Fortunato Hobbs (Nato for short) from my Blanche and Nato story.

After some careful thought about my last post, I've decided to give myself some leeway on the `every Saturday' thing.  If I feel like the commitment is bound in stone I'm less likely to be able to think of anything to say.  Also, I have a feeling that my blogging might slide a little during midterms and finals, and I don't want to feel guilty if that happens. 

I still think it's important to commit to writing, but I also think it's easy to let the commitment frighten you off from putting down words.   

Saturday, February 19, 2011

It's Saturday again

I have nothing to say, which by rights would mean not putting my words out in the world.  However, a few months ago I decided I would try to post something every Saturday, so here I am on Blogger.  It's amazing how a schedule can motivate a person to sit down and write.  The words become part of your routine, and you get antsy if you don't tap them out.  It's tempting to let something (like a blog post) go undone when the week's been long but as soon as you let it slide you've opened the door to future excuses.  So here is a short post to remind myself that this is Saturday, and to keep my routine intact.

How about you guys?  Do you like to schedule writing, or do you just let the whim take you when it will?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy (late) Valentine's day, everyone.  Just think, only two more weeks until March.  Today's picture is titled Cecy meeting Count Carlos on the Castle Stairs.  (Yeah, I'm really imaginative when it comes to titles.)  This is the first big drawing I did on my own initiative after I'd had a couple art classes and learned how to do decent shading.  I'm still really proud of it, even though I never did get the stairs quite right.  (Sigh.) 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Words, Words, Words.

One of my favorite writing books, Fiction is Folks by Robert Newton Peck, has a chapter about using objects to help build characters.  What a person owns says a lot about them, and can also remind the reader of important past events without the author having to do a recap.  

A huge moment in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is when Indiana's famous hat rolls out in the dirt.  You know Indian has arrived and some serious adventure is about to start -after all, if his hat's on the scene he's got to be nearby.  Sometimes a certain word or phrase can take on the same importance as an object.  For example, "All for one and one for all" instantly makes a person think of The Three Musketeers.  

The power, I think, of catchphrases, is that they remind you how well you know these characters.  You feel a little shiver of familiarity and you grin in expectation, or maybe you start to seriously worry, depending on what usually follows that phrase.  Perhaps a character says "nothing can go wrong now," and you want to reach right into the story and slam your hand over their mouth because you know that something really bad is about to happen.  

Catchphrases can be like movie music.  The battle-cry that makes you catch your breath the same way a sudden musical swell does.  The jinx words that make you shift uneasily -just as if creepy music had begun to play across the page.

Of course, a person doesn't want to overdo it with the catchwords and catchphrases or your characters become flat, but the power of catchphrases shouldn't be ignored, either.  In Through the Looking Glass Humpty-Dumpty suggests that the speaker (or writer) controls the meaning of the words he uses.  Catchphrases are one more trick for taming those words.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Chicory Relaxing

This is a picture of the real Chicory -a mouse I started writing about back when I was a teenager.  I've found, since, that the tougher life is the more likely I am to write fluff.  The teenage years are about as rough as life gets, so naturally Chicory is a very fluffy character.  After all this time I'm still fond of her, and she's still one of my favorite things to draw.   

Saturday, February 5, 2011


Have you ever noticed that when you read a book that has `whimsical' in the description, the story is often disturbing?  As I kid, I found Louis Carrol's Alice stories morbidly fascinating.  The landscape shifts and changes like those in a dream.  People morph into animals and back without warning.  The story is mind-bending as a Dali painting, and I read it over and over trying to figure out what was going on!  I like the Alice books now.  I get the puns, and the unfamiliar landscape has become comfortable with associated memories.  But when I see advertisements for Burton's interpretation, I'm not surprised that they look a bit chilling.  It is, after all, a disturbing story.

There are several whimsical books that I just adore.  Jame Thurber's `The 13 Clocks' is high on the list.  The pictures are almost all night scenes, the epilogue, in which we discover the fate of the evil duke, is chilling.  But the story has such lovely language.  My favorite line is about the Golux, an odd little man with "a describable beard and and indescribable hat." The line is: "The Golux did not seem wonderful to him now, and even his indescribable hat was suddenly describable."  Thurber frolics with words.  The result has the feel of a fairy-tale -not what people think of when one says fairy-tale, but an actual fairy-tail, where danger is close, and every night is ridden with storms.

What makes a story whimsical seems to be a certain mood, a willingness to play with language.  The worlds are as fluid as the words, and there's a habit of turning expressions into reality, or just looking at things sideways, that shifts perception in the reader.  It's unsettling, but it's also fascinating.  And that makes whimsical books worth reading.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A picture of Princess Blanche

I decided to see if I could upload a picture on my blog, and it turns out that I can.  This is a drawing of Princess Blanchefleur Alicorn.  It's not a perfect likeness (I originally imagined her with scads of curly hair, mainly due to K. Y. Craft's lovely picture book of the `Twelve Dancing Princesses') But I am still rather proud of how my picture came out.