Lynda Barry’s books

I’ve added a new listing to my Resources page:lyndabarry1

Lynda Barry Books ‘What It Is’, ‘Syllabus’, ‘One Hundred Demons’, ‘Picture This’.  The creative process through image and word combined.  I love the questions she asks.

I’ve become a Lynda Barry fan.  I read her books slowly.  There is a lot going on and I want to catch all of it.  I love how her mind moves around the creative process, asking it questions, testing out answers.  Her books invite me to play in the thousand thousand possibilities of creating.  I am a kid again when I dive into one of her books.  How cool is that!

lyndabarry2I read her books with my sketchbook beside me.  I always come away with ideas for my own work, and questions about my writing and drawing process.  I know from experience to write down what comes to me, so that I have it to hand tomorrow, or next month, or next year when I need it.lyndabarry4

Lynda’s books give permission by example, to play and create, each in our own particular way.  Did she intend that?  I don’t know, but this is the effect her books have on me–FREEDOM!  I am already playing and creating in my own way, and she invites me to explore farther and deeper, see what else I can make with my heart and head and hands.

lyndabarry3The book I am reading right now is ‘Syllabus: Notes From An Accidental Professor’.  This book is dense with image and word, pages from the classes she teaches, drawing and writing from her students.  So much to take in and learn here, to experiment with.

Thank you, Professor Lynda!

Postcard #8 – In the middle of things

I Choose Knowledge
I Choose Knowledge

Camp Nanowrimo ends tomorrow.  I’ve done my best.  Will meet my word goal tomorrow.  Yay me!

I am well into the revision of my first draft.  20,000 words of the original 55,000 done.  I’m in the middle.

Being in the middle of things is not always comfortable or comforting.  This happens with my drawings.  I get a third to half-way in, and it’s like I hit a major oobleck hole.  Thick.  Sticky.  Sink-y.  No traction for my wheels, which are disappearing into the green goo.  Where did my ideas and inspiration energy go?

I have to get out and push.  And I have to get help with the pushing.

The fact that I’ve been here before does not help me evade this place in my creation process.  It does help that I know I always make my way through and up the other side.  It helps that I have strategies for handling the middle oobleck hole.

This is what I do.

Continue reading “Postcard #8 – In the middle of things”

Postcard #7 – Inheritance

Christmas Eve

I am looking at a photograph.  It is Christmas Eve.  I am three years old.  Dressed in a red velvet dress with three white buttons, white tights wrinkled at the knees, and scuffed moccasins.  There is a brand new tricycle in front of me.  Chrome and fat black tires and sky blue painted metal.  Wide blue seat and black pedals, waiting for me to climb on and GO!

Behind me, sitting on my Nana’s sectional couch, looking at the camera and smiling, are my Mom, Nana, Dad, two of my uncles and one of my aunts.  My Papa is taking the picture.  Family.

I don’t remember this specific Christmas Eve, but I do remember my tricycle.  I can hear the crunch of the gravel under its wheels as I ride it down our driveway, feel the push of the pedals against the sneakers on my feet.  Feel the pull on the handlebars as I manoeuver over the grassy middle hump in the driveway.  If I go too slow, I’ll get stuck halfway and have to put my feet on the ground to push me and my tricycle over to the other side.

I know the people, my family, around me in this old photo.  Know and feel and recall them the way I recall my tricycle.  I know the sound of their steps on the floor, the feel of their arms around me, the push and pull of our time spent together.

December 61I hear people talk of inheritance—money, objects, house and land.

My inheritance is right here in my hands, in this photograph of a Christmas Eve.  These people, my memories, this is my inheritance.  The remembered feel of hands in hands.  The remembered sound of voices, talk, and laughter.  What I have experienced and learned in the embrace of my days with them.

This is my inheritance.  Love.  Connection.  A place to stand.  Memories that carry me into happiness, peace, acceptance of my life just as it is.

Thank you for these gifts.

__________________________

Thanks to my brother Paul and my Uncle Allan for collecting the family slides and photos, and digitizing them so they can be shared.

Postcard #6 – Revising

5 Crows Silver, 6 Crows Gold
5 Crows Silver, 6 Crows Gold

I had this idea I could whip through creating the second draft of my book.  I’ve got a month.  The first draft is pretty good.  No problem.  I can do this.

Hmmmm.

I am revising my idea of revising.  Like, I maybe should expect that this second draft will take me as long as writing the first draft.  The first three weeks of April have shown me this.

I admit it.  I am a virgin when it comes to second drafts.  I mean, I was a virgin.  Can’t claim, and blame, that any longer.

I am in the messy midst of second draft, and I am enjoying it.  A different process than first draft.  I am pickier.  Rather than ‘let’s get this down’, it is ‘let’s get this right.’  I am playing with words in a different way.  I am studying them, drop by drop, rather than pouring out a whole bucketful of water onto the page and moving quickly to the next page to pour another bucketful.

First draft was falling in love with a crowd.  Second draft is loving the individual beauty of a word, phrase, sentence, and hearing how they link and don’t link to those beside them.  Second draft is choosing the particular beauty I want my book to be, and matching all to this.

I still love the parts that don’t link up, that don’t match this single beauty.  I see their different beauty, and know they will fit somewhere else, some other time.  I put them aside.

I’ve had to adjust my word goal for Camp Nanowrimo.  Downwards.  Make it smaller.  Doable.  That is alright.  I am learning a new writing process, my revision process, and this is exciting.

So, a toast.  Raise your coffee mugs, tea cups, wineglasses, and all.  Here’s to a longer revision process.  Here’s to getting it right, and to particular beauty.  Here’s to second drafts and being a writer.

________________________

Mentioned in this post:

Camp Nanowrimo     http://campnanowrimo.org

 

Postcard #5 – Singing my love song

Archangel For Mrs. St. Cyr (Uriel)
Archangel For Mrs. St. Cyr (Uriel)

The radio station this morning is playing ‘I Feel Love’, sung by Donna Summer.  Very techno and disco-y and electronic, a compelling beat.  And then Donna’s voice comes in, counterpoint to all that driving push.  Long clear notes that slide over and between all else.  Melody that expands.  It embraces the energies building in the song.  Focuses and holds them in a single through line—I feel love.

This is exactly what I am doing in my life.  I choose all my experiences, letting them wind their way around each other the way the synthesizers do in ‘I Feel Love’.  Then I focus and hold my experiences in a single melody.  Love.

Our lives each have soundtracks, and we choose the songs.  When I say we choose the songs, I mean this:  I choose love as my song, my through line, and then I go about creating it, singing it into and around whatever I am doing in my day.  I shape the feeling like a hug and hold each experience of the day within it.

When I look at something I need to do, like revising my book, and it feels too huge, I know how to begin.  I start up my soundtrack and choose my love song.  I let this book revision become part of the song.  I say thank you for the gift of knowing how to begin.  Thank you for the gift of having written a first draft.  Thank you for the time and peace and place to play for a second time with the words I created.

I am not perfect at my love song yet, but each time I sing, it comes easier and quicker and smoother.  One of the words I use a lot in my love song is thank you.  Singing thank you tells me, and Source, that I see the gifts here in front of me.  Thank you places me in the present moment.  This is where I feel love, right here, right now.

This is my soundtrack and my song.  I choose love.

________________________

Happy Birthday, Bryan!  xoxo from mom

________________________

Mentioned in this post:

Donna Summer – song ‘I Feel Love’ from the album I Remember Yesterday, 1977

Postcard #4 – Start here

Where I Am Not
Where I Am Not

I have a new sticker for my laptop.  It reads ‘Get Lost. Write.’  The sticker is from Camp Nanowrimo.

Getting lost in my writing is a good thing.  Getting lost and scared before I write is not a good thing.

There is no map for writing.  The map is created as I move my head and heart and hands across the page and the keyboard.  I call myself Writer.  I could call myself Explorer.

I read other writers’ maps, and they give me clues to what I might find in my map.  The key word is ‘might’.  Their maps are not mine.  The map I create is my own, the trails and geography unique to me.

I have learned to start here, exactly where I am in my life in this moment.  I learned this from Julia Cameron’s and Natalie Goldberg’s maps.

I know here, a familiar place to step out from.  If I come to my day’s writing feeling lost and scared, forgetting how the words always do flow, I start here.  Where I am, what the weather is doing, how I am feeling, what I want to write today.  I let my writing be just what I am thinking, seeing, feeling, what is in front of me.  I do this as long as I need to.  And then my head and heart and hands slip from thinking about my writing to just writing.

The writing is not scary.  It’s the thinking that is scary, and it’s not real.  It’s not true.

What is true is the writing I have already done.  The ideas I have for writing not yet created.  The place I have made for myself in my life to write and love what I write.  The permission I have given myself.

I am a Writer, an Explorer.  I create my map as I go, and I always start here.

________________________

Mentioned in this post:

Julie Cameron, ‘The Artist’s Way’ and more    http://juliacameronlive.com

Natalie Goldberg. ‘Writing Down the Bones’ and more    http://nataliegoldberg.com

Camp Nanowrimo     http://campnanowrimo.org

 

Postcard #3 – Gifts and the Wrong Way Round

etchasketch.blogI was whining to myself this morning about all the work I have to get done.  Whining.  Complaining.  Worrying. Resisting.  Maybe I’ll just lay here in bed a little longer.

Two blog pieces to write and post.  A coaching session to read and prepare for.  Camp Nanowrimo and my book revision to work on.  A day-long writing workshop to finish preparing for and teach.  A proposal I am working on.

I have bit off more than I can chew, I think.  Did this to myself, I think.  I took all this on, created it, and now I am freaking out about getting it done.

I stop resisting and get out of bed.  I do my morning routine.  In the midst of making coffee, my last step before getting into my writing, I stop.

I stand at the kitchen counter, dumbfounded.

I am looking at this the wrong way round.  All I have learned, all I am writing about, and here I am.  Wrong Way Round.

I created this writing and creating and teaching, and now I am complaining because the Universe has given it to me.  I am seeing this as a burden.  No.  Wrong.  These are gifts.

Because of the things I have created, I get to spend today writing, imagining, and playing with words and ideas.  And then I get to share the words that I love in my blog.  A gift.

The rest of this week:  I get to read about and then talk creativity with a fellow creator.  Connect with other writers at Camp Nanowrimo while I play with my book.  Spend two whole days reading and preparing, then writing and talking writing with a room full of writers and creators.  Play with possibilities for my proposal.  All gifts.

I get to be in what I love all week long.  Open the gifts I have created for myself.  Sit like a kid at Christmas, surrounded by toys, deep in play.  Writing.  Writing.  Writing.  A gift.

Happy Christmas!

________________________

Mentioned in this post:

Camp Nanowrimo     http://campnanowrimo.org

 

Postcard #2 – Be here now

IMG_0096I am at the lake.  Sun, sky, water.  Birds that I can’t see sing a chorus.  They’re all hiding in the trees.  The ice is gone.  The open water is cold but the ducks out there don’t seem to mind.  Two Canada geese are causing a ruckus.  Splashing, then flying, honking out the noisiest Spring courtship I have ever heard.

There was frost this morning and the thermometer read zero.  That was three hours ago, the sun still rising.  Now the sun is full high in the sky and there is heat where its light lays across my legs.  This is balm to my heart.  Open.  Feeling.

This is being present.  This is resting in what is all around me, here, now.  My body relaxes.  Nothing to fuss over.  Nothing to be ready for.  Just open. Listening.

I have coffee beside me.  Decaf with cream.  Caffeine and I don’t always get along.  I sip it.  Warm now rather than hot.  The air is cooling it.  Doesn’t matter.  I like cold coffee with cream as well.

This morning is a gift.  Mist on the hills at the far end of the lake.  A faint layer of cloud above me.  No wind.  The water is glass except where the ducks have passed by.  The geese are silent now, perhaps their courtship complete.  I wish them well.

This is peace and perfection.  Right here, right now, all of me is present to this moment, my life.  Head, body, heart, spirit.  Whole.  One.  There is no other place to be, no other thing to do except be here now, present, writing.