Archive | October, 2012

Nothing Changes Unless We Speak Up.

17 Oct

I am taking a bit of a departure in this blog post, but I think it is important. For those of you who have read my first novel, Poppy Days you will know that it deals among other things about bullying. Although Poppy Days is a novel, the bullying was based on my own experiences.
It all happened over forty years ago, and yet it is still often too painful for me to recall and speak about. However, October is bullying awareness month. Another child this time in Canada has taken her own life because of bullies. Something needs to change.
I was a teenager in the 1970’s and I went to an all girls school. I was the small quiet, timid kid who was afraid of her own shadow. Consequently, I got picked on. I got picked on every single day, for five years. All the horrible things I describe in Poppy Days actually happened. I was spat at. No one spoke to me, except to say snide derogatory comments. I was pushed, shoved, tripped down stairs.I had my homework nicked. It was hell. I had no one I felt I could tell. None of the teachers cared. Some even joined in with the bullying, especially my maths teacher. To this day, I still panic if I have to do any thing mathematical. My teacher used to love hauling me out infront of the whole class and order me to solve an equation she had written on the blackboard. She knew I couldn’t do it. She also knew I was being bullied and laughed when the other pupils in the class mocked me as I stood helplessly in front of that board.
Yes, it was hell, and yes, it took me years and years to get over it. I attempted suicide. I have never admitted this in public before. I don’t want sympathy, I just want people to realise that bullying really is that serious.
People have asked me why I didn’t speak out. The answer is simple. I was terrified. I couldn’t see it ever stopping.
I am writing this because sadly, it is still a seemingly never ending nightmare for too many. It only ended for me because I woke up one day and refused to go to school. I never returned. I lost the last year of my education, but I got my life back.
Any one who is or has been bullied will understand how desperate I felt. I hope this post will help some of you who may have a child going through a terrible time. If they cannot speak out, YOU must. If the school will not listen or take action, then you have to get your child out of there. I wish with all my heart I had had the courage to tell someone. I never did when it was happening to me. It breaks my heart that nothing much has changed since my bad old days. No child deserves to be driven to suicide because death is a better option than bullying. That is a damning judgement on us all.
As for me, well, I suppose I did speak out really. I wrote about it in my novel, and in my book, I got my revenge. I was able to take control, and made my character do all the things I so badly wanted to do in real life, but was too afraid to do. My protagonist meted out her own form of justice. When I wrote that, it exorcised all sorts of ghosts for me. I finally felt free. It was a wonderful feeling.
I hope that any one suffering at the hands of bullies finds the courage to make it stop, and that they too can be set free.

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A Life In A Day

12 Oct

I won’t ask you to close your eyes and picture the scene as you need your eyes open to read this blog, but I will try my best to paint a picture for you of a day in the life of a humble author, or rather my life in a day.
So, here we are, and it is a surprisingly bright and cheery looking day in East London. I have staggered downstairs at silly O’Clock , overflowing laundry basket in my arms as usual. My little terrier, Dodger will be happily pilfering from said basket as I blearily try to load the long suffering washing machine.
Alf, the strong silent Labrador will more often than not already have stealthily helped himself to several socks and undergarments and sneaked them into the living room whilst I try in vein to wrestle a sock from Dodgers mouth. I am used to going on a sock harvesting mission before switching on the washing machine. My usual haul of retrieved items spread around the carpet consists of half the laundry basket, and my poor rug resembles an explosion in a knicker factory.
Once safely retrieved, I put the first wash of the day on. Teenage sons I have noticed, make a lot of laundry. Then I make some breakfast and attempt a conversation with teenage son before he leaves for sixth form college. I am making the most of these brief conversations, as this time next year he will have flown the nest to go off to university.
I am not looking forward to having an empty nest, but I’m sure my writing will help to fill the huge void his leaving home will leave me with.
It will non the less be difficult to prepare for a new phase in my life. Being a mum has been my main occupation for thirty years, as I have two sons. Not sure I am ready to relinquish the role, but I am trying to convince myself that bringing up your children to be independent confident adults,
ready and eager to fly off for their own adventures in life is a parental job well done.
Anyway, I digress.After the breakfast and the “bye son, have a good day” scenario, it’s down to the important bit of the day. Shower and dog walking. Yes, this is vital for my manuscript. I do an awful lot of thinking and plot writing whilst throwing a soggy tennis ball whilst I trudge my way through the damp grass.
Usually by the time we return and I have sat down with my lap top and a well earned cup of tea, I have walked my way to a new chapter.
After wasting a bit (or a lot) of time on facebook, it’s finally time to get down to the nitty gritty.
I admit my organisational skills are not exactly regimental. In fact, I freely admit they may appear downright haphazard. I do not do spread sheets to record my word count , or have much of a system. My only props are a note book and pen. I write notes about my characters, bits of relevant information and research ideas in it. It’s not very high tech, but it works for me.
There is just time to pick the dog hairs off my key board, and I’m good to go. Maybe I’ll just have one more cuppa first, though, and..is that an odd sock I can see? now, who, I wonder, left that there?