So here’s my story… and it’s pretty common, I suspect. I grew up in an a small farming town, where books weren’t particularly appreciated, and the people who loved them, even less so. I was quiet and bookish with a tendency to be pudgy. I was also smarter than people knew what to do with, and unfortunately, I didn’t have the emotional maturity not to speak out loud the things I noticed. It took me years to develop tact and sensitivity to go along with my brains. For obvious reasons, this made me an outcast.
I had few friends, and by the end of high school, I wasn’t speaking to anyone, really. Things were bad. People made fun of me daily. They picked on my appearance, my weight, my geeky interests. Sometimes I hid in the bathroom rather than face a cafeteria full of people who didn’t like me. By my senior year, I hated school so much that I convinced my teachers and the school principal to let me leave at noon so I could work more hours at the cinema. It was a testament to my persuasive abilities that they okayed it at all. I worked the day shift from noon to 6, usually clocking more than 30 hours a week. I said it was to save money for college, but mostly I just couldn’t stand being around kids who were so mean. It was a relief to work.
There were certain points in my life where things were bad enough due to a conflation of events and I was lonely enough that I suspect I would have done something drastic. I saw no light at the end of the tunnel. But books were my lifeline. From the time I was nine years old, I would walk to the public library, which was two miles away on the highway, once a week. I lost myself in the worlds authors had created and it made me forget how crappy my own life was. Time and again, stories saved me. So it’s no wonder I couldn’t stop until I fulfilled my own dream of becoming a writer; it makes tear up, thinking my books might offer the same escape to someone else. This is also part of the reason why I write YA.
And now? My life is pretty freakin’ awesome. I don’t think this is uncommon, either. People who are bullied work harder to improve their circumstances; they fight to show they deserve better. And I’ve done that.
So if you’re going through this now, hang on. School doesn’t last forever. And if it’s bad enough, tell your parents. There may be alternatives.
Now go check out what these other authors have to say on the subject.
Mandy M. Roth
Michelle M. Pillow
Jackie Morse Kessler
Jesse L. Cairns
Ruth Frances Long
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