October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and Clean Teen Publishing participates by hosting giveaways and sharing posts about bullying. This is my story.
I was twenty-one and out on the town with a friend one evening—a rare event for an introverted writer and cat lady, such as myself—when I found myself on a bar’s balcony. My fourth novel had just released less than a month ago, so perhaps that was why I allowed myself to leave my writing cave for some fresh air. I never expected to run into her. A bully from my high school days, my days when my first novel released. She was there, standing on the same bar balcony as me, a girl I hadn’t seen since graduation day (which was only a few years ago at that point), but she was doing more than that. She was talking to me.
It took me a moment to realize she was talking to me. And not just that. She was smiling at me.
I thought the Matrix had a glitch. This girl used to laugh at me. Now, she looked prepared to laugh with me. There was no acknowledgment of our history, and I was so dumbfounded I simply stood there and listened to her ramble on and on about her life.
She had gone to college, dropped out, taken time to think, and now she was going back. She wanted to be a writer, maybe even a poet, but she wasn’t sure how to go about it.
She wanted my help.
In fact, she went on to quote a few of my blog posts and other articles. My blog. My writings. My tips and tricks. She had read hundreds of thousands of my words, and I was the one that was now speechless.
Here was this girl who used to tell me to “go write a book” whenever we passed one another, a trap I almost I always fell into by replying, “I already did.” Of course she’d then get to say the hurtful part. “Now go write a good one.”
Quite a few others picked it up, so it’s a phrase I’ll never forget.
Now, I’ll never forget the way she asked for my help.
Bullying is a complicated, distressing topic. It is disheartening, crushing, and sometimes—oddly—empowering. Now, I’m not giving bullies any credit or saying it’s okay to be one—it’s not—but I know, in my instance, they pushed me to prove them wrong, to write better, to get somewhere faster. And when I got somewhere, I learned from the bullies themselves why they did what they did. Most didn’t have the support at home to do what they wanted to do—which was the same thing I was doing (writing)—and they lashed out at me because of it.
I could’ve told that girl off. I could’ve ignored her or laughed at her or had her send me some poems and then told her to go write a good one. But I didn’t.
I helped her by handing her my business card and answering a lot of her initial questions about the publishing process.
She was one of my many bullies. Now, she is a fellow writer, trying to follow a dream, and I’m sure she has run into a bully trying to stop her from succeeding. We all have. But I often wonder how different her life would’ve been if she had simply approached me back then and asked those questions. She may not have had the support at home or from her friends, but I would’ve supported her dreams, and I would’ve introduced her to more people who supported her dreams. Alas, we make decisions, and they aren’t always the best, most logical ones.
I’ve never judged my bullies, even the ones who made fun of me when my mother died. A fact I still can’t wrap my mind around completely. But many bullies come from broken homes. I did, too. When my mom suddenly died, I was eleven, and naturally lashing out, I did quite a few mean and awful things as a preteen that I cannot take back. I sometimes wonder if I am the bully in someone else’s memories, if I have ever walked up to them and smiled and asked them how their lives are going, and not even realized who I was to them. Maybe that is the worst part of bullying. The perspective. The timing. The complications around such emotions. But maybe, just maybe, if we talked about it more, if we helped both sides of the equation, we could understand that we are all human and we could prevent more situations where feelings were hurt and dreams were lost.
We could help one another achieve greatness.
I first want to thank Black Words White Pages for writing a review for every book in The Timely Death Trilogy. Read all three reviews here, and check out this quote about Death Before Daylight, book 3: “Wow, what a shocking story!! So many things happened in this story that I was not expecting!! This author has really outdone herself with this story…This author not only gets a five star review from me but a standing ovation for her incredible writing style. I will be keeping my eye out for more from this awesome author.”
The paperback of Death Before Daylight releases on October 19! Two days later, on October 21, you can come see me at Headrush Coffee and Tea Roasters in Kansas City, Missouri for a paranormal talk and book signing. I was just up there the other day, and they had me try their blood orange pu-reh tea. It was amazing.
In other news, a few of you have asked me about my services since NaNoWriMo is about to take place. I am taking on new clients as soon as I get back into town today, so please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Since I haven’t shared/updated in a while, I thought I’d share some recent books I’ve worked with. You’ll now find them on my Services page and my Reviews page.
Minutes Before Sunset: book 1
Seconds Before Sunrise: book 2
Death Before Daylight: book 3