Thursday, November 20, 2008

Lynda Barry's Writer's Bootcamp

Stray G introduced me to cartoonist/author Lynda Barry awhile back. I liked what I saw!
When I heard Lynda was giving a two day 10 hour writing seminar in Los Angeles, I had to attend!

A picture of Marlys greeted us on a white board.

Her writing class was very different than any I've taken before. None of the usual jazz about plot, story arc, setting, scene structure, characterization and so on. For each exercise she'd have us number our pages from one to ten and then toss a subject our way. The first ten cars you remember, for example. Then we'd pick one and picture it, writing answers to questions including "Where are you? Why are you here? What time of day is it? Who's with you? What's to your right?" I was amazed at the details that popped in my head- stuff that hadn't crossed my mind for decades.
Then came the writing. You had to keep the pen moving. Stumped? Write the alphabet or draw spiral until the words returned. And absolutely no re-reading while writing! The latter was very helpful, as I'm a sucker for getting hung up on what's "wrong" with something I'm working on.
Lynda was kind enough to spend her lunch hour autographing books. She took the time to chat with each fan and even pose for pictures. (That's a lot nicer than another well-known cartoonist who stopped autographing books because some of them ended up on Ebay.)
For a picture of Lynda and me (in my non-duck form) click here. (I almost Photoshopped the freaky red out of my eyes, but thought it looked kinda cool. To bad I can't make my eyes do that in real life.)
If you like Lynda Barry, you must take this class. You'll have fun. You'll have a pile of material. You'll never write the same way again.

p.s. I feel a bit guilty because when I met Animation Queen Sally C. last year I didn't have a camera and was too shy to write much about it in my blog (was afraid I'd write something dumb and offend her). So I feel a bit guilty with posting a " I met this artist and here's my picture!!!" about someone else. The next time I run into Sally C, there will be pictures! And words too!


Linda said...

NAMO!!! I'm so glad you went. I love all the images, plus the one of the real you w/ Lynda.

How many in the class? Some interesting people?

I had a blast reading the postits. "Capacity to be depressed is a sign of health..." tho that doesn't exactly sound like a blast. There's one note I keep straining and straining to read: it's at the bottom of the note that starts "Chuckie-sleep" and it says: "Point of living is ..." I can't read what the point of living is! Did she say? You'll tell us, won't you?

Sally said...

I bet this will be of great help to you with your cartoon project-- the kind of writing she's encouraging is like many of the weirder things you've written on your blog. what I mean is, you're already equipped to write it, just shake off all that character arc crap.

And remind me to wear a paper bag net time we get together! ha.

stray g said...

So glad you met each other and had fun. Lynda is very funny. Hope she'll visit the Southeast for a workshop sometime!

Namowal said...

Hi Linda,
We had a packed audience of about fifty. Everyone was interesting. You had to change your seat a few times so you got to meet new people each time.
The point of living? I can't promise you the answer but I bet it has something to do with being spontaneous and playful.
Hi Sally,
I like your "character arc crap" expression! So true. People have been telling stories since the caveman days. Yet I can't see a caveman tapping his fingers by the fire and worrying about his story construction.
Hi Stray G,
I agree she's wickedly funny! She could be a great comedian. I hope you get to do the workshop too. I think it's worth a plane ticket to another state.