Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Wednesday Writers Tips... Writer know thyself

Have you always wanted to be a writer? As a little kid did you make up stories, make your own books with construction paper and pictures torn from magazines? If you didn't, were there other things you did that pointed to you being a creative adult?

Many years ago my mother came across a test to give children. The point being that it would be saved and given to the child when they grew up.

She first gave the test to my brother when he was seven years old (and I was two). Seven years later, when I was nine, she pulled the test out and asked me the questions.

Looking back over it now I so see my brother's personality and future. He was a good scholar, went on to earn a Ph.D., but was not a nerd or overly studious. He loves to explore wilderness and cities, and shares that interest with his wife and children. Reading his answers to the test you can see that even at seven, he knew it was important to do what needed to be done.

Me? I was the dreamer, the right-brained student in a left-brained curriculum. It took me nearly 15 years to earn my A.A. as I took all the art class I wanted instead of the academics I needed. And you can see that in my answers to the questions.

The test has 50 questions but I won't bore you with all of them, for reasons you'll see at question 16.
I have also added current [comments] in brackets.

Test: For Children  
Answers by Jackie, age 7 and seven years later by Chrissie, age 9 

1. What is your favorite food?
J. Bacon and Eggs [Still true.]
C. Oranges [ditto.]

2. What day follows Wednesday?
J. Thursday
C. Thursday         

3. If you were going to the moon for a week, what 10 things would you take with you, besides food and clothing?           
J. Gray doggie (stuffed toy), games, Tony Tiger (inflatable punching toy), hobbies to look at (shells and butterflies), Daddy, Mommy, spelling papers, arithmetic book, pencil and paper and eraser, school reading books, a drum. [Really? He wants to take school work to the moon?]           
C. TV, air tank, radio, my stuffed tiger, record player, Scrabble for Juniors, books, paints, flashlight, camera. [Hey, that's good planning.]         

4. What are your four best habits, or things you do best?           
J. Brushing teeth, keeping my room tidy, helping daddy when he’s sick, remembering to make my bed. [OMG, I had to live up to this?]           
C. Writing, singing, drawing, and painting. [That's me to a T.]         

5. What are your four worst habits, or things you’d like to change?           
J. Table manners, teasing sister, doing things when told.           
C. Reading, spelling, arithmetic, and social studies. [Knowing your weakness is half the battle, right?]         

6. Have you ever had a pet? What kind? What did you like about it?           
J. Yes, Guinea pigs. Yes, I enjoy them they are funny.           
C. Yes, a kitty and I like it! [I'm a kitty person through and through. Cheetah is asleep across my arms as I write this.]

7. If you had a million dollars, name 10 things you would do with it.           
J. I’d buy a bicycle, extra tires for the bike. Save some for college, about $300. Buy new books like the school has. Well, I’m too young for this, but Daddy’s been wanting a new motorcycle real bad. I’ll get him one. Can’t think of anything else, except caps and guns and things like that.
C. A swimming pool, a barbie doll, a new house for everybody, another swimming pool, 3 French poodles, give to church $60 grand, that means a thousand, a new car, 6 Cocker Spaniels, 11 cats, 2 Boxers, and put the rest in the bank. [A true shopper!]             

8. Which grade in school so far has been the most fun?           
J. Second grade, because there’s more work to do and more different things to do. [Really?]           
C. Kindergarten, it was the easiest. [Really!]         

9. What is your favorite sport, to watch or take part in?           
J. Bicycling, if that’s a sport.           
C. Swimming and basketball [That's backyard basketball, not sweaty, squeaky-shoes pro basketball. eek.]         

10. Do you feel like crying when your teacher or parent bawls you out?           
J. No... well, sometimes I do if my feelings get hurt. [Awe, poow widdle fella.]           
C. Yes, but I’m not a cry-baby. [U-Go-Girl!]

11. How may days does February have?           
J. I never counted them.           
C. I think maybe 30? [It's like "I think maybe $145?" when I wonder how much money I have in my check book.]

12. Do you know yet what you’d like to be when you grow up?           
 J. A dentist. [He grew up to be a chemist/salesman.]           
C. I’d like to be a store lady in a baby store. [Waa... where'd that come from?]

13. Name two things you used to be afraid of.           
J. The dark, and big bully kids at school. [Awe.]           
C. Thunder and lightning and the dark places. [I love thunder and lightning, thanks to my mom for showing me how beautiful and awe-inspiring it is.] 

14. Name two things you are still afraid of.           
 J. Space men and I guess swimming under water.           
C. (giggles). Someone behind me saying BOO! [More than once that someone was Jackie!]         
15. What do you dream about most?           
J. Riding bikes, especially before I learned how.           
C. Big boogie mans (giggles).         

16. What do you most enjoy drawing pictures of?           
J. Purse seiner fishing boats. [Huh? Where'd he get that?]           
C. I hate taking tests! Don’t ask me any more questions! [Well... I guess I told her (mom asking the questions).]

17. Do you have any brothers or sisters? How many?           
J. Yes, one sister. She’s very cute. [Awe, that's so sweet!]

Kid's will say the darndest things. 

Most people won't have such an enlightening glimpse into their childhood and their embryo personalities. I'm lucky that my mother was interested in child development (even taught pre school for a few years) and took the time to sit down and ask us all these questions. I do wish she had come back on another day to see if I'd answer the rest.

If you have small children you might like to try asking them a bunch of questions and see what they come up with. Tuck it away then give it to them when they're older! It's great fun. Download the questions for children doc on my bookshelf on my For Writers page. Some of the questions might be dated as they were written long ago. But most will hold up. You may be surprised by the answers you get. 

Do you have anything from your childhood, like school work or home crafts that point to you being a creative adult? I spent most of my adult creative hours doing visual art, mostly watercolor. But there was always the niggling in the back of my brain that I wanted to be a writer. It took many years for me to acknowledge that I am a writer. It doesn't matter what the teachers said about my communication skills. It held me back then, but not now. 

Writer, know thyself. Reach into yourself and own your creativity.