We saw Lynda Barry at Powell’s Books on Thursday night. She is so completely amazing. The new book is called One Hundred Demons and she tells great stories but she also wants to inspire you to paint your own demons.
I actually took notes because she was saying so many things I didn’t want to forget. I think I’m going to transcribe my notes for you:
She talked about writing the story of your life and mentioned this friend she had who was all excited when he found his old high school journals so he could read these long forgotten details. He was all depressed to find out that all he wrote about were feelings. He said it was like finding a movie of the Battle of Waterloo but the movie had been made by monkeys and all you got were pictures of bananas and none of Napoleon. So her suggestion for a writing exercise is to take an object e.g. cars. As soon as you hear “cars” you immediately form a memory in your head of car from your past. Time of day? Colors? Are you inside or out? What’s going on? Here you’re bringing it into the concrete. She said she has a stack of words on cards and she picks one and starts writing.
She talked about dreams and said when we’re dreaming we’re aware of our dreamself but our dreamself is not aware of us. It doesn’t say, “I had the weirdest reality the other night.”
She said she used to sing this song “Groovin” and there’s a line in there that goes “life would be ecstasy, you and me and Leslie.” It wasn’t until much later that she realized that the song was actually “you and me endlessly.” But she thinks that the “and Leslie” version sounds more interesting so when you’re writing, be sure to bring in Leslie.
She also talked about being on the dance floor getting into the groove and then losing the rhythm so just moving around, trying to look like she knew what she was doing until she found the rhythm again. She said she never knew this happened to everyone. She suggests that writing is like that and to not worry about losing the rhythm, just stick with it until you find it again. Everybody is faking it. She said the creative process for adults is like playing is for kids. When you see a kid playing with a truck you think “kid playing with truck.” But to the kid, the truck is playing with him or her. So when you’re writing/painting or whatever creative thing you’re doing, you should let it play you.
Final quote and I hope I get this right, she said she was talking to her husband about something she was working on and wondering if she was doing it right. And he said: as well you should because fascism is what doing it right is all about.