Jul 242014

 Part 2: Ways to Write about Bullies

Write about bullies and feelings

 We do remember what they did. Write about bullies  and how they made you feel

Tuesday’s post addressed the different types of bullies looming around in your past. Today’s post will address some strategies to help you write about bullies and other encounters with rudeness.


Sometimes you just have to get the toxins out of your system. At first, it might seem like you’re just vomiting emotions on the page. That’s okay. With a little editing, chances are that a coherent story will emerge. If not, you’ve had a good purge. The exercise may put you in a better position to write from a different perspective.

How You Wish You Had Handled It

Many times, it’s not what happened that sticks in our craw, but rather our response, or lack thereof. We ruminate over how we could have handled it better. What we wish we’d said—what we’d say now.

You can have your do-over, as you write about bullies, mean girls, or even the mispronounced witch that reigns supreme over the office.

Write a ‘Dear Bully’ letter. Say what you wish you’d said. Tell them of the hurt they caused. Alternatively, if you’re really gutsy (a different word came to mind here) and you’re still in contact with your past bully, you can call them out. My writing buddy J.P. Ribner did this in A Bully’s Memory. As you read it, notice how revealing the comments are. When you write about bullies, you do start dialogues.

Just Tell the Story

Write about bullies and your feelings

Have your do-over as you write about bullies.

Sometimes simply narrating the story can lend perspective. Was it a confrontation between rivals or a bully and a victim? Were you a targeted victim or the nearest punching bag?

Try thinking about yourself and your nemesis in literary terms. You’re clearly the protagonist. Can you develop the antagonist’s personality a little? Do you know his or her back-story? Likewise, was there something in your back-story that made you a target?

Most good stories have a resolution (or serial), which brings me to the next point…

What You Learned

Did your encounters with others teach you something about yourself? About other people?

I can remember the first time I stood my ground with a workplace bully. Dealing with her in German didn’t help—being assertive is harder when you’re grappling for vocabulary. Luckily (in hindsight), she caught me on a bad day. As she started haranguing, I calmly told her to call me back when she could be civil and hung up.

After that, we were golden. Apparently, bullies respect some backbone. That lesson has stuck with me, as did the realization that I should have stood my ground from the first.

Understanding what motivated the other person is an important part of processing your hurt or offense. Were you ever able to get to that point? How did that change things for you?

Letting Go

Understanding what motivated the other person is an important part of processing your hurt or offense. Were you ever able to get to that point? How did that change things for you?

After J.P. wrote his calling-out post, I wondered what causes us to accept Facebook and other friend requests from our former bullies. Is it actual maturation or forgiveness? Or is it that we refuse to acknowledge that they are important enough to shun?

As you write, let your readers know how you feel about those individuals now. Does the resentment you feel keep you up at night, or have you long since ceased to care? Has life evened out the differences? Have you received an apology? Do you still crave one?

A Parent’s Perspective

Many times, watching our kids go through situations causes us to see our own childhood in a new light. Write about how your outlook has changed. Were you sometimes the bully? Did you understand what you were doing?

Your Turn:

Put your past to paper (or web)—write about bullies in your past. I’d love to read your story.


Jul 222014
Writing about bullies of childhood

Writing about bullies is a way to open up your past to your readers.

Writing about bullies doesn’t come easily. We want to put that behind us. We wonder, “Who wants to read that?”

Probably most people.

Whenever we get together and share memories and stories, encounters with belligerence, arrogance, or outright bullying invariably come up. It’s always a compelling story.

Our listeners commiserate. They respond with their own stories. This happens when we write too. When we write about bullies and persecutors, we connect with readers and start conversations. We see new facets of each other’s personality. Continue reading »

Jul 172014
Use Fiction to tell true stories

It’s not just either or. You can also use fiction to tell true stories.

How do you communicate your story without having to tell it? One way is to use fiction to tell true stories. Writers often use this tool when they (or their editors) feel that real life fails to produce great literature. (Julie Schumacher’s Turning Real Life into Fiction explains some of these quandaries.) Continue reading »

Jul 152014
A typical day in your life

Describing a typical day can deepen connections.

Your story does not have to be extraordinary to be worthy of the written word. In fact, memorializing a typical day can be the key to connecting with loved ones.

I remember my younger son’s fourth grade teacher pulling me aside to describe my son’s “spacy” behavior. “Welcome to my world,” I told her. Although I sympathized with her, a part of me was grateful for someone who understood—viscerally understood—life with my son.

We hear “Walk a mile in my shoes!” with good reason. Experiencing the dust around another’s feet and the rhythms of their daily life promotes understanding and empathy. Continue reading »

Jul 102014

STrong family roots and ugly treeA strong family root system doesn’t always lead to a pretty tree.

It happens in nature too. Take my backyard willow tree for example. Its root system supposedly can spread over an acre. Despite its ability to efficiently retrieve nutrients and water from the soil, its limbs break off in every storm.

When that happens in families, it’s downright scary. There are times when love, faith, resources, and parents trying their absolute best aren’t enough. Children rebel and run away. Siblings become estranged. Mental illness or emotional scars reign over nurturing. Family members choose (or end up on) paths abhorrent to the rest of the clan—and society.

Usually we think of an imperfect family tree in terms of missing family members. It’s important to write about the parent that you never knew or cousins you never knew existed. Sharing how tangled roots lead to dysfunctional trees can jumpstart meaningful dialogues and conversations.

Unfortunately, dysfunction can also grow out of symmetrical, strong family roots. Continue reading »

Jul 082014
Anti-bucket list

What items are on your anti-bucket list? More importantly, why are they there?

Without question, our hopes and dreams tell a lot about us. Shouldn’t an anti-bucket list do the same thing?

On the other hand, why write about the negatives when you can focus on the positives?

An anti-bucket list isn’t just a litany of things you don’t like or dreams you’ve given up on. It’s a chance to explain what makes you tick, to write about the lesser-known side(s) of yourself. Writing about your dreams is important. But, life’s realities matter too. As wonderful as rainbows and ponies are, sometimes the deepest connections result from knowing understanding the negatives. Continue reading »

Jul 022014

Craft Squad July 4 TraditionsIn my project for this month’s blog hop, I’ve tried to highlight my families 4th of July traditions. Welcome to my Treasure Chest of Memories blog. It’s all about preserving and sharing personal and family stories, whether you’re scrapbooking, writing, journaling, or augmenting your family tree. If you’re coming from The Crafty Neighbor, you’re in the right place. Continue reading »

Jun 302014

Various Roots Roots by Another Mother…

When we think of roots, we think of family trees. If we’re from a loving, supportive family, we think of those roots supplying stability and nourishment. If we’re from an atypical—or even dysfunctional—family, we think of them as hidden, dirty, cavorting with worms and grubs.

Those roots are great to write about. But, we have other roots. Some of them have nothing to do with family. Bear with me as I beat the metaphor a little longer. Continue reading »

Jun 262014
Steelers Sports Traditions

Steelers sports traditions are so strong in our family that we’ve added something to our family crest.

Many families have traditions that center not around the dining room table, but rather the television set. Other families have built their sports traditions around a particular section of the local ballpark or stadium. It’s easy to look over such sports traditions when we’re documenting family stories. However, sports traditions are often imbued with deep emotional connections.

Team Traditions

Even though we live in the Detroit area, my kids grew up watching the Pittsburgh Steelers. This is a continuation of my husband’s childhood traditions. In his family, fall Sunday afternoons meant tuna fish sandwiches, a Steelers game, and a nap. I vetoed the tuna fish part, but we continue the rest. Although not together physically, my husband, his parents, and his siblings’ continue to root for what used to be the home-team together. Continue reading »

Jun 242014
What you were doing was right street sign

Those times when you knew what you were doing was right make great stories!

Have you ever had moments of extreme confidence—times in which you knew that what you were doing was right? As a person who, on her best days, still lacks confidence, such occasions of complete certainty have been relatively rare. On the other hand, the scarcity of those times makes them doubly precious.

The circumstances of knowing what you were doing was right make for great stories to share and pass down. They can give your readers great insight into your personality. Continue reading »