Reading and chatting with the Amazing! Lynda! Barry! Can you dig it?

The night before I was scheduled to read with Lynda Barry, I felt like my head would explode. I realized that I was going to meet someone in person who I had admired for many years, probably 20 at least. I had no idea what it would be like. The next morning I walked into the hospitality suite for the Vancouver International Writers Festival, and there she was, sitting at a table, with a red bandanna in her hair, looking just like she does in her drawings. She looked up and saw me, jumped out of her chair and came towards me with her arms outstretched, telling me how much she loved Tangles and how wonderful it was to meet me in three dimensions. It had never even occurred to me that she would have actually read my book. I had to sit down because I was shaking and laughing and crying. We just sat and looked at each other and sniffed. And then we just had the most wonderful morning of my entire life, talking and talking and laughing so hard. Nancy Lee arrived and the three of us laughed and talked more, then we did our event — reading from our work and then talking with Nancy and then taking questions from the audience. It was an inspiring and joyful discussion about creativity, hard work, what makes a “good” drawing, the silliness of aspiring to unreachable excellence instead of just doing your own work… I am in awe of Lynda’s brain, and her ability to draw and paint these intense, moving images of teenagers and demons and monkeys and chickens and magical monsters, and the way she fills up the stage with her tiny little self, and projects this love and acceptance, even as she talks about the overlooked power of hate, and how she likes to ask her students how they would kill someone, what method they would use.

Here are some photos from this Magical! Lynda! Barry! Day!

I think that was the best day of my life. Lynda’s so smart and funny and generous and just emanates love and passion but not in a syrupy way at all, in a kick-ass, hilarious, edgy, challenging way. Wow. I feel so incredibly blessed.