When What It Is by Lynda Barry (Drawn & Quarterly) arrived at the Geist office, its comix, collages and exercises looked like so much fun that I fought with our office manager, Kristin, over who’d get to read it first. I won the first read of Barry’s book, which is the print version of her playful creative writing class called “Writing the Unthinkable.” In her collages and cartoons, Barry poses questions like: What is a memory? What is a story before it becomes words? Do kids need to draw? Do adults? Why? The second half of What It Is contains an activity book of exercises on images and memory, a freewriting kit and Barry’s own process notes. The writing exercises focus on description rather than narrative, but the value of the book for artists and artist-wannabes is that Barry encourages you to set time aside for your art and dive into your memories. After reading only half of the book, I wrote more in a month than I had in the last two years. Sorry, Kristin, I’m keeping it.