About the drawings

Part of my creative practice is to push myself into places where I’m not completely comfortable [1]. So, I signed up to do a writing and drawing workshop with Lynda Barry. I was already familiar with her books, but when I was humming and hawing over the price of attending, an article passed below my eyeballs [2] insisting there are only two people one ought to do a writing workshop with: Lynda Barry and Kurt Vonnegut.  Sadly, Mr. Vonnegut is dead. Interestingly, Kurt Vonnegut also practiced drawing and doodling and has a marvelous video of himself drawing the shapes of stories.  

The workshop with Lynda Barry was, quite literally, life changing.  One of her exercises that I continue is to draw a self-portrait each day.  Here are the rules:

  • Use a black felt tip pen (no pencils, no erasers)
  • Use an index card (i.e., restrict your drawing space to a small area)
  • Draw a frame 
  • Time yourself.  Maximum three minutes (this is roughly the length of a song if you’re listening to music. You should be.)
  • Draw a picture of yourself doing something [3] 

What I am practicing when I do this exercise:

  • Moving through the fear of not knowing what to draw and just getting on with it
  • Letting go of perfection 
  • Learning that my hand will know what it wants to draw before my brain does 
  • That my drawings have a “style” (ergo, my writing should too…naturally, without my forcing it)
  • There is real beauty, SUPER BEAUTY, in hastily rendered work – the drawings have more personality and emotion than I could ever hope to infuse intentionally 

Blog posts include these drawings, as proof to myself and you, dear reader, that we can train ourselves to wade through fear…and even have some fun while we’re at it. 

[1] Annoying analyst notes: it seems you’re willing to take risks and push your comfort zone drawing (life drawing session later this month), or even for movement exercises (barre class?) more than for your writing.  Sure, you’ve attended writing workshops, but you don’t force yourself through discomfort in your regular writing practice.  In fact, you avoid it. Why?    

[ancillary] I guess it’s because I want to write as beautifully as Ondaatje or Doerr, or as humourously as George Saunders or Lorrie Moore or Mary Karr, or as tightly as Denis Johnson or Lydia Davis or Mark Anthony Jarman.  And of course, my writing SUCKS in comparison. The pain of that inadequacy is suffocating. And yeah…I know that quote about the gap between my own writing and the writing I really want to be able to do (Tom Chandler covers that here).  I’m working on it.  

[2] I’ll try to find the link down my reading rabbit hole…wish me luck. And, apologies to the author of that piece that I’m neglecting to credit here.  May the karmic writer gods withhold their wrath. No luck so far…

[3] I usually draw myself doing something I did the previous day. Doing this, I have come to realise I live a pretty mundane and repetitive life (there are lots of pictures of myself doing the same things over and over).  But, having lived through quite chaotic times in my life, stability and predictability and routine better feed creative process.

[ancillary] inner critic notes: you’re just boring.