I Survived Catholic School

by | Mar 11, 2019 | Articles | 0 comments

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.

impostor

New “Writer Problems” Series, Topic #3: Impostor Syndrome, aka The Self-Confidence Deficit

“The most helpful quality a writer can cultivate is self-confidence—arrogance, if you can manage it. You write to impose yourself on the world, and you have to believe in your own ability when the world shows no sign of agreeing with you.”  —Hilary Mantel  ...
process

Create A Process That Works For YOU

This week’s topic: create a process that works for you. I can’t tell you how many times a fellow author’s quote has upset me for the simple reason that their opinion is presented as fact. Here are a few examples: “Write every day, line by line, page by page, hour by...
Whizzers

Authors’ Pandemic Sales and The Dubious Metric of “Necessities” Vs. “Luxuries”

​Considering everything going in the world, the past week was a pretty good one for me. Almost a year after its initial publication, my novel Whizzers—which had flatlined in the Kindle store—suddenly spiked to #179,500. When one of your babies jumps that much, it gets...
drum

“I Want to Bang on the Drum All Day”

Ever have an old song pop into your head and then it’s just there all day?  For those of you reading this who are old enough to get the reference, today’s blog post title comes from a Todd Rundgren song from the early 80s, “Bang the Drum All Day.” Todd Rundgren was...
newsletter

A Sneak Peek at My Latest Quarterly Newsletter—And An Invitation

Okay, I'll admit right out of the gate that this isn't really a "sneak peek." My subscribers got it yesterday. Most of what I send them each quarter is content exclusive to subscribers, but every once in a while I'll share something here as well. The following is from...

Writing Based on Experience

Recently, I’ve been writing more about writing, giving some explanations about why I write what I write…or, in the case of the three novels I’m currently promoting, why I wrote what I wrote. Brothers’ Hand, which takes place in the fictional town of Carverville, NY,...
punches

Roll With The Punches, Baby!

Today is just one of those Mondays. I got a letter from the IRS that said they "believe there's a miscalculation" in my return. So that big $300 refund I was planning on receiving? Fuhgeddaboutit. But hey, at least I don't owe them anything, and they're not auditing...
happy new year

Happy New Year From Mike Sahno – Author. Speaker. Publisher.

Today was the last day of 2018, and it's also my last blog post of the year. I almost missed it. One of the only reasons I've had success as an author, speaker and publisher is because I've been both relentless and consistent. I used to think my natural, God-given...
speaking

On the Road: The Speaker’s Life

A few months ago, I wrote a post about annoying current expressions like having said that and at the end of the day. That post came up in conversation this past weekend on a long, long trek to Miami and back. You see, when you spend nine or ten hours in a car with...
forget

Writers, Don’t Forget to Write It Down!

It's happened to the best of us, right? You have a great idea, and you really should write it down. After all, you don't want to forget it. But it's well past midnight, and you're in bed. In fact, you're getting sleepy...very sleepy...your eyes are starting to --...
self-promotion

What’s The Problem With Shameless Self-Promotion?

While I still find it somewhat hard to believe, I've been on Twitter for almost eight years. I know this not only because Twitter shows Joined March 2015 on my profile but also because, even if they eliminate that feature, I use a tracker called Who Unfollowed Me? If...
MLK

MLK Day 2023

Here’s wishing everyone a safe, sane Martin Luther King Jr. Day. For many of us, today is always something of a day of mourning: not only mourning the loss of a great civil rights leader, but also mourning the turn our great nation seemed to take in recent years....

Twitter Tips for Authors in 2023

If you follow my blog, you probably connected with me via Twitter, whether you’re a fellow author or not. In 2020, I wrote a post about Twitter for fellow writers that got a good response. Three years later, the landscape has changed, but some Twitter best practices...
rails

Going Off The Rails (But Not On A Crazy Train)

Last April, I wrote a blog post called Back on Track With a Work-In-Progress. Part of that post was to talk about the difference between a “plotter” and a “pantser” (and to describe myself as a hybrid of the two, a “plantser”). Another, less obvious motive, was to...
French

Those Tricky French Authors and Their Obsessions

Today’s blog post was originally going to be Write Whatever the @#$% You Want, Pt. III. However, after seeing parts I and II lined up, I decided to call an audible and make it something less repetitive. Somehow the SEO gods have gotten into my head. As I’ve mentioned...
scared

Write Whatever the @#$% You Want, Pt. II

In last week’s post, I mentioned a pretty well-known author who has publicly reported his publisher “wouldn’t touch” a new release, in part because a character in his novel referred to herself as “fat.” I heard this story on a podcast, and I remember thinking, “Wait...
censorship

Write Whatever the @#$% You Want

I’ve been stewing on this for a while. It’s been brewing for quite a while. I could probably write a song about it (how about a rap?), but I don’t think I will. This is more of a blog post topic, and it might even deserve a series. And that’s the title and topic of...
gratitude

Should Every Month Be Gratitude Month?

When I was a kid, I loved Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz. I read it daily and collected nearly every paperback volume of the cartoon, so I could see what I’d missed since the comic strip’s inception in 1950.  Certain things stuck: quotes like “happiness is a warm puppy”...
robot

More Thoughts On Robot Writers and The Tech Dystopia

A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog post here called When Will the Robot Overlords Replace Us? Apparently, I’m fairly obsessed with this stuff, because every time I come here and empty my brain, it seems to come up again. Today is no different. Part of the reason,...