“The point of this practice is to begin to notice when we notice something. It’s akin to a certain sort of ‘waking up’ – and becoming present in a different way than we usually are in our day to day lives. We catch ourselves noting something that has caught our eye or our ear. We begin to realize these flashes of awakeness –(which can oddly feel also like dreaming) , are happening to us all day long…”
~Lynda Barry, The Near-Sighted Monkey
Episode 264 of the CMP, a Creativity Matters Podcast
In this episode of the CMP, birds in brief and an unexpected bird moment and a memory of a talisman bird that remains a mystery but a powerful image in my head. A bird moment followed by a bird moment collides with October planning and thoughts on perpetually failing and falling behind in forcing myself to record my day. (I talk about it all the time, and I am constantly failing to meet my inner expectations, which is frustrating and so unlike me!) These moments layer together and land me back in the four-boxed (I think of it as four-paneled) diary format from Lynda Barry, explained in Syllabus and elsewhere.
This show is NOT a deep-dive into Syllabus. Syllabus is a dense and incredibly inspiring book that deserves more time. This show is about a single exercise only from Syllabus.
In this show, a brief rundown of this 5-minute diary approach (although it might be 4-minute or 6-minute or you might, like me, not worry about timing it) and the ways in which it enhances your awareness of seeing, your alertness to the world around you, you feeling of being awake in your day. (I talked about this format last year in Episode 177, if you want to continue the thread.)
Random note: I do know that mourning doves bond for life and are typically seen in pairs. However, I have seen many single and lone mourning doves in the years of watching. When I say that I felt sure it was a mourning dove, I say that with full understanding.
Random note two: My small litany of birds was brief and felt so far away. A year of birds led to a wonderful and deep appreciation for and awareness of birds. It was much more all-encompassing than it sounds here in the few examples.
Random note three: I did a second recording after my main recording, and in that, I explained that both Barry and Kalman definitely make my list (CMP Lists in April) for the hypothetical dinner party, and I am fascinated with them both. But my fascination is different. I would like to take a class with Barry. I ultimately deleted the audio, but I still want to note that although the comment that is in the show about these two artists stands, there is a difference in how I view my fan-girl self with each artist.
Random note four: Yes, Syllabus is a book that I always feel could be the one book I take with me and it could fill and occupy and inspire a vast amount of time. It is that dense and that packed and yet, for me, that exciting. Doing a dedicated month with this book is a wish and a goal.
Random note five: Inktober is underway, and Inktober doesn’t come up (really) in this show. But I hope those of you drawing for Inktober are staying strong and ticking off the box each day in a way that matters for you (even if it feels uncertain or raw or awkward). With daily drawing, you will improve in small ways that you may not notice until the month is over… but you have to trust in that reality, in the possibility of that, in order to see the month through and let the process unfold for you. (For Inktober inspiration and encouragement, catch Episodes 262 and 263.)
The Flow of Episode 264 (and relevant links):
- Episode 177: What You See (March 2016)
- The Near-Sighted Monkey (Lynda Barry’s Tumblr stream)
- Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor (Lynda Barry)
- Four Minute Diary (video with Lynda Barry)
- 6 Minute Diary (video with Lynda Barry)
- PDF from RISD Writing Center
- Lynda Barry Will Make You Believe In Yourself (NY Times)
- Cartoonist Lynda Barry makes a case for phone-book doodling (KQED)
- Seven and a Half Minutes of Writing (assignment information to be used with the video)
- Seven and a Half Minutes of Writing (video with Lynda Barry)
- Interview with Lynda Barry | INK conference in association with TED, 2012 (video)
- Doodling along with Lynda Barry (Follow the Bush)
- Lynda Barry’s Illustrated Field Guide to Keeping a Visual Diary and Cultivating a Capacity for Creative Observation (BrainPickings)
- Variations on our Daily Diary Practice Interview with Lynda Barry | INK conference in association with TED, 2012 (video)
- Lynda Barry on Letterman (1990)
- Lynda Barry on Letterman (1990)
- Lynda Barry on Letterman (1988)
- Guitar music: Nicholai Heidlas on SoundCloud
- Creativity Matters Group at Facebook
- Support the Creativity Matters Podcast with Patreon!
(Note: Links to books on this site are often affiliate links to Amazon.com. In most cases, I recommend you use your local library to check out books before you make buying decisions, but the links provided are affiliate links to Amazon.)