Our stories are also influenced by the experiences of others.
Sometimes we witness events that we never stop thinking about, at least not until we write about it.
For a writer, an unforgettable experience can provide the roots for a story, though that story may not seem directly linked to the original event.
I was once told a true story that stayed with me for a long time and which I am sure informed my story The Tree Hugger.
The Tree Hugger is included in my collection of stories: When Things Go Wonky.
The story is about a girl who witnesses bullying in her school but feels powerless to do anything about it.
The story that drove me to want to write a story about bullying was told to me by a student when I was teaching in a college some years ago.
This student had a severe disability that affected his mobility and he had to use a wheelchair.
He wrote and spoke openly about the bullying he endured at school and I was shocked to hear just how intense and sadistic his bullies had been.
His parents had done their best to protect him by moving him from one school to another.
But, the bullying continued throughout his school life and culminated with him being dragged from his wheelchair, stabbed with various implements and having his chair thrown into a river.
What was even more shocking and upsetting to me was the response of the teachers in whom he confided.
One teacher questioned whether he could cope with the ups and downs of school life!
Another teacher suggested that he was too much of a ‘goody-goody’ and should try to ‘be bad’ for a change.
Just what form of ‘badness’ the teacher wanted this boy to get up to wasn’t clear.
From discussing this incident with other students it appears that this is typical of the glib response received by those who are bullied when they ‘tell.’
All children should reach safety when they ‘tell’ and it is clear how important it is to deal with bullying early before it grows into more sadistic and damaging behaviour.
This was certainly true when I was a child. Growing up in the inner city of Liverpool as a quiet, shy and ‘swotty’ kid I certainly experienced bullying.
Sadly, I remember some of the teachers as being the worst bullies of all.
The violence, both physical and emotional, that they inflicted on the children in their care was repeated in the playground.
Children learn by example and of course, this includes bullying behaviour.
From time to time I meet people who went to school during these times and sometimes they say things like ‘well it never did me any harm.’
It makes me sad when I hear this, especially from people with untreated mental or addiction problems who have made the connection between the violence of their childhood and the problems in their life.
I had hoped that things had changed since then but sadly it hasn’t.
There are new and worse stories about bullying in the media every day and today’s bullies enjoy a new range of tools.
Bullies thrive in making their victims keep their plight a secret.
One way parents can make sure their children confide in them about bullying is to open up the subject through reading and I hope that my stories can help with this.
P.S. Please feel free to comment below – I always do my best to reply.
The Tree Hugger is one of eight stories included in my collection – When Things Go Wonky.
Download When Things Go Wonky Here