Thursday, September 20, 2012


My brothers and I under the Ferris Wheel.  (I'm the one in the lower right corner.)

Last night at the Great Frederick Fair I had my picture drawn by a caricature artist.  It was a lot of fun -especially seeing my friends snicker as they watched me being drawn.  The artist gave me scrunchy eyes and a huge grinning mouth; in fact the mouth is practically my whole face.  My eyes really do squint almost shut when I grin, which is often.  Being happy can make it hard to see.

The job of a caricature artist is to notice details and exaggerate them.  Exaggeration is one of the building blocks of comedy, after all.  It's funny because the truth is there, distorted as the reflections in the hall of mirrors.  There's a sense of strangeness, followed by recognition.  You go `what in the...? Oh!  Of course!' and then you just have to laugh.

Some people complain that Dickens characters are actually caricatures; that because he comically exaggerates the details he looses all resemblance to life.  They sort of miss the point.  Dickens had no idea that he was writing classic literature.  He was entertaining people while giving them a sideways look at Victorian society that magnified the flaws so they could be addressed.  An accurate portrayal would've just said `this is the way life is' instead of `this is crazy!' 

I think writing accurate pictures of people is a lot harder than comical exaggerations.  I'm sure there are those who find it much easier.  (Lucky them.)  Just like in art, both styles take an immense amount of talent, and a well trained eye.  The important thing is to remember that both are a legitimate stylistic choice, and both have an important place both in our history and in our current arts.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


I really admire people like Tolkien and Sherwood Smith who spend years building a deep, complex world.  My writing method is exactly the opposite.  I start with characters, then ask myself `where do these people want to live?' and build from there.  Once in a while I'll begin with a situation, and spend weeks (or months.  Or years.) trying to decide exactly who would be caught up in it. 

One of my biggest jobs in a second draft (the first draft is to get the plot in order) is to add setting details; making sure I don't have doorknobs when there should be latches or buttons instead of laces, seeing to it that the weather pattern fits the season, all that good stuff. 

The story setting is, to me, a bit like watching a photo develop.  At first there's a blank, then the first gray smears appear through the chemicals.  As you watch, the smears darken and sharpen into actual shapes until finally you're looking at a clear photograph.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Walk for Life

Hi Everyone.  I just wanted to let you all know I'm going to be participating in the Frederick Walk For Life on September 30th.  The walk is to raise money for our local pregnancy crisis center.  They're a great organization who do a lot to help our community.  If anyone out there wanted to sponsor m here is a link to the online donation page.  (Oh, and if you want to let them know I'm the person you're sponsoring, my real name is Grace Clay.)  If you want to know more about Care Net, here is a link to their homepage.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Just pretend I posted this Saturday...

This picture is actually last week's post.  Um... hope you like it (even if it is two days late.)