I have made my way through Lynda Barry’s book Syllabus: Notes From An Accidental Professor. Slow reading. Taking in the content and structure of the pages, the balance and play of image, word, idea, question. Seeing how her mind moves, and in turn noticing what my mind touches on.
On pages 61 to 63 Lynda talks about ‘Your Daily Diary’, an assignment she gives her students. I’ve decided to do this for my blog post, and feel what this recording process feels like.
This is how I do it: Today. Seven things I did. Seven things I saw. Something I overheard someone say. Draw a picture of something I saw. All recorded on a single page divided into a grid of four spaces. Do it fast. Five minutes total time used to record my day. I like the speed of this. My internal critic can’t handle speedy creating, panics about getting run over, and hides somewhere out of the way. Excellent.
Because I am doing this as my blog post, I’ll use a list rather than the grid. A list of the sorts of things I notice in my life, what my mind touches. Moments of being present in my day. Here goes.
7 things I did: 1. Bought a new bathtub plug at the hardware store. 2. Borrowed five dvds from the public library, three from the adult section and two from the kids section. 3. Scratched (repeatedly) my leg where the mosquito bit me. 4. Drank an iced coffee with milk and vanilla. 5. Wrote my blog post while drinking the aforesaid iced coffee. 6. Read some of The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (really J. K. Rowling). 7. Read more of The Silkworm.
7 things I saw: 1. A woman so thin it hurt to look at her. 2. A quote from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, painted in black letters high on the library wall, about using wild animals as librarians in order to liven up the library. 3. A dirt footpath created by everyone walking the same shortcut, four feet over from the unused walkway paving. 4. A squashed-flat, dried-out-by-the-sun raspberry on the back deck. 5. A small grey ball of cat fur gently rolling down the hallway. 6. Three pairs of people walking the underground parkade, obviously trying to find where they parked their vehicles and, so far, not having much luck. 7. A white car whose license plate partially read SNL (‘Saturday Night Live’).
Something I overheard someone say: ‘’She must have anorexia.’’
These are the odds and ends of my day. Weirdly, my mind thinks the most important thing I’ve done today is getting a new bathtub plug. This is what it presents first. And the image of the thin woman is still in my mind. I can see her as I write this, two hours later. Already I am wondering, why these things and not others? What connected in me, that made these and the other twelve in my list stand forth?
Emotion. Need. Surprise. Oddness. Satisfaction.
This is fun. This feels like do-it-again-some-more.
I know that Lynda’s Syllabus is a book I will read several times. Maybe read the whole of it, front to back. Maybe dip into it here and there. I love her for creating this gift that I get to play with and learn from, that inspires my creativity to ignite, and places me in my day and my life.
Thank you, Lynda! You are awesome.
Mentioned in this post:
Lynda Barry, Syllabus: Notes From An Accidental Professor, https://www.drawnandquarterly.com/author/lynda-barry
Robert Galbraith, The Silkworm, http://robert-galbraith.com/