A Writer of True Character
As a high school teenager, kids are taught to follow the five paragraph structured essay. Students are told to religiously follow this strict format, because of its organization and appeal to a specified audience. As I start to expand and build upon my writing, I realize that a writer who ignores the status quo and lets their true character shine throughout their writing, is the most successful author. Writers like Lynda Barry exemplify this imperative trait for lucrative writing. By Barry not catering to the needs of her audience, her writing becomes much more creative and passionate, and her true personality of holding onto her childhood flourishes.
Barry’s essay “Two Questions,” is a phenomenal piece of writing that not only shows how an author is more successful when they go away from the five paragraph structured essay, but how their true personality shines through their writing. While Barry’s essay is more of a visual piece of artwork, the story starts off with two questions: “Is This Good? Does This Suck?” These questions were what Barry would always ask herself when writing her essay. She always wanted to make sure that the intended audience would approve of her writing, which she says limited her writing. This is because she is afraid to take that risk of publishing an essay that showed her true character, which is very different to that of tra
ditional writers. Barry knew that sticking to the customary, five-paragraph structured essay, would be a safe form of writing as it is organized and will have always have an appeal to the audience. However, Barry argues that she could never truly express herself when she asked herself these two questions. She said, “The Two Questions held that part of me hostage” (64). After much consideration, she finally took the leap and let her creative mind do the writing for her. She started drawing and never stopped. Whatever came to her mind she would put down on the paper, even if it didn’t even make sense. Barry finally ends the essay saying that, “To be able to stand not knowing long enough to let something alive take shape! Without the two questions so much is possible. To all the kids who quit drawing… Come Back!” Here, Barry refers to the kids who quit drawing, as the students who threw away their creative minds and were brainwashed by their teachers to stick to the organized, structured essays. Barry realized that you have to make writing your own if you want it to be as strong as possible.
After reading this essay it is clear that Barry’s overarching theme is that a writer should never feel limited by his or her audience. The author should keep the audience’s opinions in mind, but you should never ask the two questions that Barry would always ask herself. Barry also conveys the message that true writing is simply a reflection of who you are and that once you put the audience’s preferences above yours, the writing is transformed into something that is not truly yours.
After analyzing Barry’s essay further, I realized that Barry was trying to get across an even deeper message to her audience. Barry showed that when you disregard your intended audience, not only does your writing become more passionate, but also your true character shines through. Your writing becomes a direct reflection of your personality and in Barry’s essay, her creative drawings revealed her childish attitude that she still holds onto. Barry believes that in writing, you can’t pretend to be someone else; you have to write from your heart. As a result, Barry’s untraditional and immature attitude stood out in her writing.
Barry’s drawings are the main aspect of her essay, which show her immature behavior. For example, on page 67, we see Barry’s ghost-like figures yelling, “You Suck” at the two questions. These characters that Barry draws, are ones that you could find in a cartoon show or a children’s video game. Barry also draws an octopus-like creature on page 66, trapped in the corner with a monkey. As random as it may seem, these drawings just emphasize how her childish attitude greatly influences her creative writing. Clearly these cartoon-like characters are important to Barry as they can be seen on every page. Barry also shows both of these characters yelling at old parent-like figures that are scratching their heads in confusion. To me, this image shows that as a kid, Barry was under much scrutiny by her teachers for having a very informal structure to her writing. Barry, however, never conformed to her teacher’s beliefs and always used her creative mind to do her writing.
Another technique that Barry uses to convey her message of maintaining one’s individuality in their writing is through the shading and underlining of certain words in her essay. Barry uses different shading techniques to compare and contrast what is pertinent to her essay and what is unimportant, such as the adults in the background. It seems that Barry darkly shades in the areas that she is trying to break away from, like the two questions, and lightly shades the areas that are a reflection of her true character, like the cartoon drawings. This technique shows how Barry’s childish behavior not only shines through her writing, but is what Barry wants to show. She is not afraid even if most audiences would look poorly on it.
The last technique Barry uses to reveal her childish attitude is the way she puts emphasis on certain words and phrases. For example, on page 57, Barry darkly colors in the phrase Two Questions, to show her utter distaste for that essay structure. When I first read this phrase, I thought of it being the title of a scary movie, because of the way Barry shades it in. On the pages to follow she then underlines words such as “dislike” or “sucks” to show how she disassociates herself from the traditional writers. Instead of analytically supporting her thesis, she sticks to the informal writing of drawing, highlighting, and shading to get her message across.
Barry uses many different techniques to not only convey the importance of maintaining one’s individuality through their writing, but also uses these techniques to show her childish personality. Barry’s drawings as well as her untraditional writing habits, reveal her true character and maker her writing more personal. Barry’s unique approach to writing really opens the minds to many college students as they make the transition from traditional, five-paragraph writing, to a more free writing approach in college.
Here is me Brainstorming
(2nd Picture): http://www.google.com/imgres?q=Barry+two+questions&um=1&hl=en&client=safari&sa=N&rls=en&biw=1280&bih=680&tbm=isch&tbnid=ydBYSxSUbyfrKM:&imgrefurl=http://theophantasmagoria.blogspot.com/2010/08/two-questions-is-this-good-does-this.html&docid=aKNJ3fkJa1GyJM&imgurl=http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_r24mLasptDY/TGDr4QomUVI/AAAAAAAAAJE/gYvmS5SROd0/s1600/barry001.jpg&w=673&h=979&ei=r-nqTtzGJdPptgfdxcj5Cg&zoom=1&iact=rc&dur=308&sig=111486601156672851660&page=1&tbnh=161&tbnw=110&start=0&ndsp=20&ved=1t:429,r:2,s:0&tx=90&ty=89
(3rd Picture): http://www.google.com/imgres?q=lynda+barry+cartoon+drawings&um=1&hl=en&client=safari&sa=N&rls=en&biw=1280&bih=680&tbm=isch&tbnid=G4UvvQw80VDoVM:&imgrefurl=http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2010/12/01/lynda-barry-on-picture-this/&docid=97YGfTIGxq4EYM&imgurl=http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/lynda_barry_self-740691.jpg&w=270&h=296&ei=CdXqTqDSNMrvggfWquncCA&zoom=1&iact=rc&dur=325&sig=111486601156672851660&page=1&tbnh=156&tbnw=142&start=0&ndsp=16&ved=1t:429,r:8,s:0&tx=126&ty=148