Lynda Barry meme

Or rather, a meme I hope to inaugurate. I just got a copy of What It Is, and I find it as wonderful as I thought I would. Barry’s looking at the process of creating any kind of art — how we shut ourselves off from it out of fear, how we can open up to it again — and she includes a number of exercises. I tend to dislike writing exercises in books that are not entirely composed of writing exercises, because they take me out of the accompanying narrative — but this one was compelling enough that I went and got a notebook and did it.

The exercise: Number a page from one to twenty. Picture your elementary school while you rest your eyes. Write down the names of the first twenty people that come to you. 20 first and last names if you can.

When I did it, it brought up a lot of memories (as it’s intended to) and I decided to take it one step further: hence, the meme. Along with the names, write something you remember about that person. For purposes of the Internet, I’d say include only first names.  You can also modify it by doing fewer names, or choosing middle or high school. (But no fair doing middle or high school if you’re still in middle or high school.)

If you do this, let me know in a comment!

Here are my 20 (I did, actually, remember first and last names for all of them):

1. Tracy: We wrote stories together until she got popular. She had a stuffed dog called Orangy.

2. Tracy (a different Tracy): Made me stand where there were lots of mosquitoes, so she could have her toy Kermit the Frog catch them off my skin.

3. Mike: Was Toto in the Wizard of Oz. Made fun of me all the time.

4. Kara: We were the only girls who had Star Wars figures.

5. Altheair: I was in her group at Brownies and didn’t know what to say to her.

6. Margaret: I can remember her house almost as clearly as mine. We fought. I still think about her.

7. Adam: Asked “Are you a young lady?” when I was on a sleepover with his sister.

8.-9. Danica, Claudine: They were always together. I can’t think of them apart.

10.-11. Carrie, Christy: Sisters who were cruelest when everyone thought they were kind.

12. Laura: Taught me a dirty song while we sat on top of the monkey bars.

13. Tina: Was smoking by sixth grade.

14. Annie Bee: Loud and funny and sharp. I was scared of her.

15. Trina: She had perfect hair and penmanship and I was fascinated.

16. Jacob: Always had to explain Hanukah.

17. Kaisa: She took the story she was writing into the bathroom and wouldn’t come out.

18. Christa: I know she works in TV now, and that makes her childhood self elusive.

19. Jennifer: We picked up broken glass to make fairy wands.

20. Colin: He drew a puppet I made.

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  • Dawn
    June 23, 2008 at 8:10 am

    Heya…will you do me a favor and let me know the second you hear when her Portland writing workshop is advertised. I’m seriously planning on taking vacation days to attend if I can!

  • Sara
    June 23, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    Sure! Although I didn’t even know she was doing a PDX workshop, so you are more informed than me… :)

  • ellen kushner
    July 3, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    I love Lynda Barry almost more than I can stand! Must get new book! Thanks!