I certainly remember reading numerous fiction books as a kid. I was a voracious reader and I enjoyed the dry as dust nonfiction books because they were retelling events of something that actually occurred. It was not some absurd story about a nude parrot getting smuggled down to “too damn vivid South America.” Besides, this was maybe a dozen years before Tom Robbins even penned Fierce Invalids… However, I remember checking out a forgotten Jacques Cousteau book numerous times at the school library. It appears my obsession with reading books that were fact and not some fantastical adventure stunted my creative nature. And I don’t even think I was old enough to wear my nerd glasses. I got those when I was ten.
Around fourth grade, I remember we had creative writing assignments. I figured I was doing great until the parent-teacher meeting. “Mr. Luoma, your son is not creative,” was the gist of the conversation. It was like someone dug my dad’s heart out with a titanium spork, cut it into chunks, and proceeded to catch a thirty-eight pound catfish with his left ventricle as bait.
My dad made it his mission to try to make us well rounded little people. He referred to parenting children as “an experiment.” Terrific. He must have taken food science instead of chemistry where he would have learned that experiments can end badly. The type of experiment you would find on The Island of Dr. Moreau.
I don’t remember what my dad did to make me creative, but I do remember he made me read the dictionary aloud when I was fourteen in a lame attempt to cure my lisp. By the way, broadcasting school cured me of that. I like to imagine his creativity experiment was somewhat creative involving army ants and GI Joe action figures. I imagine his methods were no less diabolical. I think army ants were GI Joe’s other half of the battle.
Somewhere between then and my junior year I became unglued. I had entered a world where I’m the only one who thought I was funny. My drama teacher in eleventh grade called my dad in for a parent-teacher meeting. She told my dad I was “peculiar.” Seriously. I didn’t know how to take that.
In college, I used to get drunk and write my term papers. My English professor who also happened to be the Dean of the Humanities department once accused me of plagarism. He said my typical writing was hackneyed and this one sentence in this one paper on mythology was decent. Decidedly, I must have stolen it. I think he forgot the first rule of Fight Club. Never look for quotable material while drinking. Make everything up so you can get back to drinking. After I reminded him of the first rule, he realized that even hacks get lucky sometimes.
This post is response to the Weekly Writing Challenge on reflections.