This post isn’t meant to be provocative, though I understand my readers who also happen to be good Catholics might see it that way. No, it’s something else altogether.

Years ago, it wasn’t unusual to hear someone talking about how the nuns hit their knuckles with rulers, or spanked them, or some other form of corporal punishment. But I don’t have any of those types of war stories. I didn’t love the nuns or lay teachers in my Catholic school experiences, but most of them were okay.

Now, I say “experiences,” plural, because I actually attended two Catholic schools. The first, St. Joseph’s, was a grammar school that ran from K-8. In my case, I only attended for sixth and part of seventh grade, having gone to a very good public school for K-5.

After transferring to another public school for the remainder of junior high, I then went back into the Catholic education experience for all of high school, graduating from St. Paul Catholic High School in 1983. Altogether, I attended Catholic educational institutions for a total of almost six years.

Brutality As Bio

All this autobiographical material came to mind today as the result of something I did this weekend. I worked on what will likely be the last third or so of my novel, Whizzers. The main character is a thinly-disguised version of yours truly, although the situations in the book are primarily fictional.

This character’s visits to certain places in the past, however, are not based on fiction; they’re based on my own recollection of incidents I can only process as formative, or at least pivotal.

If you’ve ever been bullied, you’re probably scarred for life. You can heal from it, sure, but dredging it up can’t feel good.

When I was bullied – and ostracized, and ganged-up-on, and even beaten up – I was only 13. That experience forms the basis of a scene in Whizzers, but it’s not something I keep secret. In fact, I’ve talked about it multiple times in different settings. It was so extreme, it actually led to my transferring out, ¾ of the way through the school year.

Still, writing about it seems to be a whole other animal. Whereas I can open a talk with self-deprecating humor, and then enroll an audience with the story of being bullied, I can do so with a certain distance, or detachment.

Writing myself into such a scene this weekend, however, brought up powerful feelings of grief. Perhaps the specificity of it all – the green ties and white shirts, the cold blacktop outside the school – lent itself to re-experiencing some of those awful emotions.

What about you? Anyone reading this survive Catholic school? Or have to deal with bullying or other abuse at an early age? Please feel free to share in the comments section.

Feeling A Little Bit Better

There's an old, very bad joke that goes something like this: It was Christmas, and everyone was feeling merry; so Mary went home. Then everyone jumped for joy, but Joy jumped out the window. I know those only work when spoken aloud, and in the #MeToo era, it's a...
shoemaker

“Shoemaker, Stick to Thy Last!”

I always try to help my fellow indie authors by passing on my experiences. Among the most important, in my mind, is don’t be a jack of all trades, master of none. Find your niche, and stick with it. This might not be the greatest advice if you’re already a...
LCCN

Do I Need A Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN)?

This week I promised to write about one of the most often overlooked items in the publishing business - the Library of Congress Control Number, or LCCN. I'm going to write about it a bit today, but my thinking on the LCCN has changed to some degree over time.According...

“Narratives of Transcendent Origin and Power”

Somewhere around a million years ago, I received a gift from a fellow writer, a book called Walking on Alligators by Susan Shaughnessy. I wasn't familiar with Ms. Shaughnessy, but the book is subtitled A Book of Meditations for Writers, and it has a format similar to...

The Marketing Thing Vs. The Working Thing

Last week, I took a vacation with my lovely wife, and missed doing a blog post entirely. I see where WordPress has an option of writing and scheduling posts, but frankly, I was too busy doing that with my monthly newsletter. I figured I could ignore the blog for a...
Whizzers

Book Promotion Sites: Which Are The Best, and Are They Worth It?

I'll be the first to admit that I'm no expert when it comes to book promotion sites. When I published my first three novels simultaneously on December 10th 2015—a day that will live infamy, and yes, I know now that it was a harebrained marketing scheme—I knew nothing...
political

Navigating the Murky Waters of Political Correctness

“If you don't have a sense of humor, it just isn't funny.”  —Wavy Gravy   When it comes to political correctness, I’m not convinced we should go back to the “good old days.” I mean, do we really want to go back to calling someone born to an unwed mother a...
president

Vote Like Your Life Depends On It—Then Let It Go

​In 1994, I wrote a novel called Brothers’ Hand, in which the titular character mentions that someday working class people might very well use billionaire “Duncan Scrump’s” name as a curse word one day. Of course, I never imagined such a person could become our...

Communication? Keep It Simple, Sweetheart

Last week’s blog post was all about business. This week, I’m still going to talk about business a little, but really it’s more about writing. And if there’s one lesson we should take to heart in writing – in fact, in all our communication – it’s Keep It Simple. Today...
slow

How Fast Is Too Fast? And How Slow Is Too Slow?

Do you crank out copy at a fast and furious rate? Or are you “the slow one,” the writer who labors over every word, phrase, or even punctuation mark? Or, even more weirdly, are you one of those writers who strikes a happy medium between racing and plodding? I must...