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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Serendipity and Bookstores: Thanks Lynda Barry

On my way home from the SECAC Conference in Roanoke, Virginia - great conference, too, by the way! - I took the longer way home to Clemson through Winston-Salem, and I stopped by Edward McKay Used Books & More, a favorite haunt.  I was hoping for some more of those unexpectedly cool CD boxed sets I've so often found there: Billy Bragg, ELO, Jamaican Ska, etc.

But being in one of those post-conference moods where one knows it's really important to go and consort with one's friends and colleagues, make professional connections, see some shows, hear inspiring lectures and panels, etc., yet at the same time the weight of what's not been done at home and work feels like a Sisyphean stone that's getting heavier by the minute.  I certainly wasn't in the mood to sift through the novels for a hidden gem...

So I quickly perused the art section and happened upon a copy of Lynda Barry's What it Is, her book on writing.  I grabbed it just because I've always been a fan of her character, Maryls, but I really didn't think much about the purchase until today.

What I discovered - a bit late to the game admittedly since the book was originally published in 2008 and has had seven printings! - was a wonderfully sincere, funny, melancholic, and, ultimately, hopeful and hugely encouraging book on the act of creating.  What should be required reading for all art teachers - well, any teacher, really - are her sections about her experiences drawing (pp. 75-80, pp. 100-105, pp. 111-122, and 123-136).

So, sometimes even when one is besieged by the boulders of time and responsibility beginning their seemingly inevitable downward roll, being open - even momentarily - to the potential for potential, can unlock new modes of understanding, thinking, seeing, and doing.

Thanks, Lynda Barry.

PS- Lynda Barry also has a wonderful tmblr blog, The Near-Sighted Monkey. Check it out:

PPS- Lynda Barry also has books on art and teaching such as Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor, and Picture This: The Near-sighted Monkey Book, plus Blabber Blabber Blabber: Volume 1 of Everything, about her life. I've ordered all three and can't wait!

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