Friday, March 4, 2011

Bully for Me

Last week, after finishing the first draft of my novel, I started writing about a bullying experience with a kid from high school. (To be clear, I was the one being bullied...I know...shocker!) Tonight, I just finished the fifth version and sent it to a writer friend for her input. I was so excited to send it off and get her esteemed opinion. But as soon as I hit "send," I could feel my heart beating heavily. The knot in my stomach that evokes this experience--reserved now for job interviews and intimidating meetings with leadership at work--made an unwelcome return performance. My hands were cold and shaking. And the sounds of my world were drowned out with a ringing in my ears. It was I was back in high school again.

The idea to write about it hit me like a bolt of lightening last week and I began working on it feverishly as if to reach back in time and offer some help to my former self. I worked on it for hours for a week solid, finally getting to a draft--my fifth--that would be presentable to another reader's eyes. I have thought about this bullying story for years and even considered putting pen to paper to express it. I think I was too ashamed. Still after 25 years when putting myself back there, I get a little sad and sometimes a little weepy for that poor kid who shared my name and my life. The lesson learned was that truth is the basis for any well-told story and in telling the truth, revealing oneself is a must. It's not always easy to do, but something I'll get comfortable with.

It started out as a blog I planned to publish in keeping with the promise to myself of posting weekly. But as it poured out of me--an unintentional, but timely topic--I knew I wanted to get feedback on it. But that didn't make sense. My blog was an unedited, first draft of thoughts and experiences. Then it hit me to check the yearly deadline for the Writer's Digest Competition which I discovered with relief was May 3. I'd entered a piece in the essay/personal memoir category in 2006 and received honorable mention, placing 18th. It felt good to receive acknowledgment that I was't spinning my wheels and actually had a modicum of talent. The certificate I received hangs proudly in my office--where I do most of my writing--just under a personally typed letter I received from the hilarious and oh-so-idolized Mr. David Sedaris. I look at the certificate often, always tickled by the honor they are paying so formally to my piece titled "Cousin Fucker", which sit loudly in the middle of the certificate.

The very kind and talented Mr. Sedaris' reply to a letter I'd written him about "Me Talk Pretty One Day.

My profane certificate. I guess it makes me certifiable.


  1. Did the South Park boys steal Cousin Fucker for their hit song Uncle Fucker?

  2. There's an essay in the book Traveling Mercies about everything the author, Anne Lamotte, goes through when she hits "send" (referring to sending manuscripts to friends and editors for feedback.)I highly recommend it- especially now.

  3. Bruce, on the advice of my attorney, I can't talk about it. Rebecca, thanks for the recommendation. I'll check it out.

  4. I'm so proud of you! I can completely understand your "after send" position. I've been the same boat many times. And while it gets easier, it never quite goes away. :) I fret every time I post something on my blog, or on my crit group boards, or send something your way. But thank you for sharing. And thank you for being THE person that made it okay for me to allow my work out of the depths of my laptop. Your talent amazes me, congrats on the huge step of letting it all hang out... er... you know what I mean. :)

  5. Miranda, I'm humbled to receive such a generous compliment. From the minute I "came out" to you as a writer back when we worked together, your support and encouragement were unyielding at I time when I probably needed it the most. I'm truly lucky that fate threw us together--especially in a time in one's life when you think "making friends" is probably not going to happen. You are as talented a writer as you are a good friend--family, actually. Thank you. xoxo