Tag Archives: dawn wiener

What’s your tragic flaw?

I am in the midst of an irresponsible creative writing project with my sister, discount the moose. I would love to explain, as I am now more sure than ever that I am just marking time until someone phones with a Genius Grant, but some of you milksops might steal the idea.

The term “creative writing” alone is enough to make my throat grow tight, as I associate it with all kinds of ridiculousness. I took a college creative writing class, and one of the group exercises involved plausible lying. We had to go around the room and offer two false biographical sketches and one true one. Most people lurched into the lies, giggling and blushing, “Um…one summer? I worked as a life guard?” No one could pick mine out, but I suppose I had the advantage of a completely bizarre childhood. Everyone thought the story about doing a screen test for a commercial for a chocolate company was true. They were taken in by my description of having to spit out the chocolate without eating it between takes. My true story was about getting attacked by a nest of yellow jackets, but everyone was skeptical until I showed them the scars on my shoulder. Those were actually from chicken pox, but what are you going to do?

I suffered my only other creative writing experience at the age of six. My parents were not big on activities for children save sitting quietly or hobbies and interests beyond “living off the land,” but one shocking day I was enrolled in a program sponsored by the county library. It was billed as a potpourri of creativity. For an hour we plucked the strings of child-sized violins, and then we did our creative writing. Here is the story generated by allowing a group of kindegarteners to shout things out at random: “One day, a bird, no, a peacock! Went down the hill. (What did he look like?) And he had oily, watermelon feathers. (Did he have any friends?) And he had a friend. And they did things. At the store. The end.”

Clearly my tragic flaw is that I am just like the little tapir who never got over his past. Oily, watermelon feathers will haunt me until the day I die. Also, during the “fine arts” portion of the potpourri, we had to draw a charcoal portrait of Michael Jackson. The teacher kept pointing out that his head had a perfect egg shape.