Time to clear out some more Answers from Ask Me Anything! August 2011, huzzah!
Jenny (of Saturday Centus fame) has a couple:
Were you the kid in school always getting in trouble for using the red crayon to color the sky and the blue crayon to color the grass? I was.
I did that, a bit. I was also never one to stay inside the lines. The lines sucked. I hated the lines. The lines were evil. I do remember my kindergarten teacher getting irritated when I colored a person orange, which I did because orange was the closest thing to that 'flesh' crayon that Crayola used to make, but which I didn't have in my box. (I assume they still make that color, but call it something else, right? Something that doesn't assume that 'flesh' is, well, white?)
What I remember as particularly frustrating was that creativity was generally to be exercised mainly in Art classes, and I was terrible at art. Just terrible. So other kids were being all creative and stuff, and there I was, trying to make sure that the clay ashtray was in the shape of a heart in the first place. And if memory serves, I didn't include the little divots in the sides, where smokers lay their cigarettes. How was I to know? My parents weren't smokers. And besides, how weird was it, anyway, that in school we were actually required to make an ashtray? Yeah, it was 1977 and all, but Ye Gods, here were schools just assuming that we all lived with smokers! Wow.
Creative writing assignments, however? Those didn't come down the pike all that often, and when they did, I didn't much like them, because the topics would be assigned by a teacher. I'm not sure why this bugged me so much, but it did. I recall one assignment called "Turkey Talk", in which we were to write about Thanksgiving from the perspective of the bird. Now, if you tell me to write that story today, I'm seizing the opportunity and writing a horrifically bloody tale about the turkeys who achieved sentience and staged a rebellion at the abbatoir. Back then, however, my brain just shut down. (In that particular case, I did the smart thing and...just didn't do the damn assignment. Brilliant plan, that. Especially when my parents found out that I had adopted a personal policy of "I'm just not gonna do the stupid assignments.")
Writing just wasn't much encouraged in my school years, sadly enough. I never really knew why; maybe it was just out of fashion back then. Maybe it still is. I craved the assignments -- very rare -- where we were simply given a genre and told to write something in that genre. (And then there was the "write a piece of descriptive prose" assignment, wherein I wrote a detailed description of the girl I had a crush on at the time. In retrospect, holy shit, was that creepy.)
Music, which was my other passion, employed a rather different kind of creativity. The only real outlet at the time for creating something new, musically-speaking, was in jazz band and improv solos. My problem there was that I was simply never really temperamentally inclined toward jazz. I like to listen to it, and I was a serviceable section player, but soloing just wasn't something I was born to do. Go figure.
So, going back to writing and whatnot...I see the Centus prompts as a way of, well, making up for lost time. And apologizing to that English teacher whom I refused to take seriously in 8th grade.
I did want to ask if you'd like to be a guest blogger for me.
Sure! I've never been asked to guest-blog. This is exciting. Let me know what you're thinking of!
Reader Bill asks:
Have you kept your trumpet chops up? If not why not?
Sadly, no, I have not. The answers are all the usual suspects: time, opportunity, and life's other pursuits. I sometimes wonder how I'd sound if I picked up the trumpet again right now, and how long it would take me to recover some reasonable percentage of the proficiency I had back in the day (and I wasn't half-bad, really, if I do say so myself). But this is unlikely to happen, so long as I live in an apartment.
Time is not my friend there, as well -- I only have so many hours in the day, the same as everybody else, and I've gravitated strongly to writing as my prime creative outlet. The time I might spend practicing if I was still a musician is time I now spend writing. And finally, there's opportunity: my finest musical moments always came when I was a member of one ensemble or another, and I tended to find that the greatest musical rush for me came from being one voice in a group that was hitting on all cylinders. Those are the opportunities that are hardest to come by now. There's nothing at all wrong with local amateur groups, but...well, I have some pretty heady musical memories, and I'd almost rather keep those memories close in my heart than try to recapture the lightning in a bottle, if that makes sense.
It's a shame, sometimes. I do miss music now and again, as an active concern.
More answers to come (and new questions are still welcomed, so drop 'em here!)