The Intrepid Lynda Barry

Lynda Barry’s wonderful book, What It Is, is part cartoon memoir, part practical guide to creative writing, part philosophical treatise on the intersection of images and words, part meditation on terrors of childhood. No other book reminds me so poignantly of childhood yearnings: the deep questioning that accompanies a child’s desire to understand one’s place in the scheme of things, the dubious realm of adulthood, and the struggle to maintain self-esteem in an ever-shaming world.

Barry’s recipe for creative writing uses visualization as an entry point. She steps you through a sequence that includes choosing a word and visualizing the image it elicits, then entering the image and orienting yourself to it. Her exercises take you deeper and deeper into the imaginative possibilities of the scene you find yourself in, freeing you up in the process.

If you’re working through procrastination, doubt, and shame about your own creative capacities, Barry's your guide.


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