We went to hear Lynda Barry speak at the Free Library of Philadelphia on Thursday night. I listened to her 2008 talk on What It Is and totally fell in love with her infectious creativity. The Free Library event description says
What It Is offered writers gentle creative guidance. Barry offers the same guidance to artists in Picture This–encouraging us to draw and exploring why we start drawing and why we stop. Like What It Is, her new book is an extension of Barry’s popular traveling workshop, “Writing the Unthinkable.”
She is so convincing that we all have creative imaginations that are just waiting to burst forth. One of her key ideas is that the human brain is wired to create images which link memories and emotions through deep neural pathways. She uses the word IMAGE to mean more than a visual representation. For her, IMAGE is a carrier of meaning, something that carries memories of the way the thing looked, what is smelled like, what it tasted like, and how it felt to be in that moment. She offers exercises to recall these images, such as remembering your first phone number or naming the first 5 cars you owned. When you think of your first car, you can totally see yourself sitting in the car, who was with you, what you wore, what was playing on the radio, and what emotions you were feeling. That is an IMAGE. It’s no coincidence that the word IMAGE is embedded in IMAGINATION.
Listen to her 2008 talk here. The 2011 talk should be available for downloading soon. Or subscribe to the podcasts at iTunes.