Wednesday, January 28, 2009
This is a page from cartoonist Lynda Barry's new book What It Is. I fell in love with the collages in this book, each of which is focused around an idea for a writing exercise. The book itself is equal parts graphic novel, memoir and writing workbook; I love the way it approaches writing in a non-linear and creative manner.
I used one of her exercises in a creative writing class the other day, and asked the kids to journal on her page "what and where is your imagination?" The page itself is full of images, words and sub-thoughts, all colorfully crashing into each other. At first, it seemed to overwhelm some of the students, most of whom were used to more direct prompts-some needed a little guidance to figure out what they were "supposed" to write about. But I think her books include the kind of exercises where you look at her images and each time find something new to think about. You can repeat her prompt, and find yourself answering a different question.
I'm trying to push the edges of what these kids are used to encountering in a creative writing class, and I like using her book as a jumping off point. Like all things, creativity takes practice, and I think the kids will get there...
More info on Lynda Barry can be found here.