25 years ago today I lost my mother to cancer. While there is much I can say about the experience of losing someone so young, I will leave that for another day. But today I reflect on the incredible joy she brought to my life. She was a remarkable artist and craftswoman. She would weave gorgeous tapestries, rugs and blankets on this enormous loom in our house. The sheer physical presence of such a great piece of artistic equipment, was a very important signifier in my house, that art was important and it should fill large parts of your life. The work she created was deeply connected to her Swedish roots, and it also infused much of the surrounding landscape in which she lived. Many of the wools she utilised were hand dyed using heather and other local plants, so the land was literally part of her art. In addition to showing me that art could be both beautiful and functional (I still enjoy curling up under one of her blankets), she had a fierce sense of social justice. Fairness and equality underpinned all that she did, and that has stayed with me in all that I do both personal and professional. She blazed bright and hard in the time she was here, and I carry that fire onwards each day. Birgitta Kristiansson (Lisa to her friends) was a true torch in the dark.
Having one of those days where I need to remind myself that you can’t force yourself to be creative. These things take time. So, I am going back to some writing exercises and idea starters to just kickstart my brain. I often find that I just need to ease myself into a state of flow. Go easy on yourselves, sometimes you either need to walk away (literally) or give yourself some simple prompts to boost your creative brain.
One of my favourites is to pick a place (e.g. a bakery), a character (a journalist) and a simple situation (the phone rings – its her dad), and then just start writing, and see where it goes. Also, Writing Prompts on Reddit can be a fun place to get good ideas to get your ideas flowing.
I have been reading The Far Side cartoons with my kids over the past few months and I have been pleasantly reminded of how truly brilliant, concise and hilarious they are.
In many ways they are the perfect little cartoon haiku. There is so much densely packed into each frame, and that constraint leads to so much creativity from Gary Larson. Some of my favourites are the ones where we are at the tipping point into a moment of action – and the comic promise is so rich. Equally the moments in the aftermath of something have such a bubbly fun energy to them. Of course, one of the things I adore is his fascination with the animal kingdom, and in equal parts his dismay at the sheer stupidity of humans. He truly could see the world from a different point of view.
I now realise what a huge influence they have been on my own comedy writing. The sheer silliness of them, coupled with the lean, clever way he cuts to the core of the comedy is such a delight. A true comic master.
It’s an almost impossible task to pick out favourites, but the one above is the one that started me on my journey through his collected works (and the continued journey through them with my children)
Any favourites of yours that spring to mind?