Friday, June 26, 2015

Beat the Bully… Stand Tall With BSP


Remember that kid in the back of the class who was never talked to? Who was never picked for teams? That nerdy runt who was stuffed in lockers, got food thrown at him, got pushed around in the halls? The boy all the girls laughed at while saying ‘Not if he was the last boy on earth’?

That was me.

I was bullied on a regular basis. I had the freckles, goofy haircut, skinny frame, and I was smart. I was the student who always raised his hand for questions, and always gave the right answer. Until I decided being smart wasn’t cool. It seemed my intelligence played a big factor in getting the crap kicked out of me. So I stopped raising my hand, stopped showing my intelligence. I tried hiding even deeper in the vague identity of ‘that boy”. But it didn’t help.

It was freshman year when I reached my breaking point. I had enough and one unlucky bully got every ounce of frustration and anger I had inside me. He put me in a headlock and laughed. I didn’t find it funny at all. I wormed my way out of the headlock and swung with every bit of fury I had bottled up inside my scrawny little body. And I knocked him out with one punch.

The people who had gathered around went quiet. I knocked out one kid and, by doing so, I silenced an entire school.

From that moment, my life was different. I never lost a fight throughout the rest of my years in high school. I went on to become a competitive fighter, only losing two fights… my first and my last. I became a professional bouncer facing people of all sizes. I never went down. In my lifetime, I have stared down the barrel of three guns, had multiple knives pulled on me, and been in several situations where I’ve had to fight multiple assailants.

I am still standing. I am still in one piece. And now, I must fight once again.

People have the wrong idea about being tough. Being ‘tough’ isn’t about the biggest muscles, the hardest punch, or the worst attitude. The art of ‘being tough’ is being able to make the other person believe that you are. You have to find a way to exude confidence, even during those moments when confidence is lacking. Trust me, I am not invincible. Deep down inside, there’s still a scared kid who thinks he doesn’t have a chance in the world. But I refuse to allow myself to believe it. More importantly, I absolutely will not allow YOU to believe it.

How does all of this apply to Blatant Self Promotion?

As writers, we have one goal: To get our stories out into the world. To do that, we need people to take an interest in our work. We need them to spare some of their hard earned money to purchase our books, our stories. That doesn’t happen without promotion. If we are not willing to talk about ourselves, about our work, no one else will want to either.

Think of that bully I faced in the ninth grade. Had I shown hesitation or fear, he would have gained the upper hand. I would have been back in a headlock, being laughed at and ridiculed. If my moment of conviction had failed, where would I be today?

Be proud of who you are and believe in yourself. Shout from mountain tops, “I am a writer, read my story!” You poured your heart into every word of your manuscript and it deserves to be read. No matter how nervous or terrified you are, talk about your work and yourself every chance you get. Whatever you have faced in your lifetime, you are still here, still standing tall, and you are chasing your dream.

The worst bullies are all the little voices inside our heads that tell us we can’t. Silence them. Allow your voice to be heard. Don’t let self-doubt to push you around or get in the way of your success. Steady your trembling hands and nervous voice. Stand tall and bestow your dreams and ideas upon the world.

That moment when you realize you faced the bully and won… it’s an amazing feeling.

And, if you ever need a champion, someone to stand by you and shout with you, find me. I’ll be directing the 2016 Pikes Peak Writers Conference, April 15th-17th, 2016.

(You see what I did there?)

When he's not working with the dedicated and passionate people of Pikes Peak Writers, Jason P. Henry is lost in a world of serial killers, psychopaths, and other unsavory folks. Ask him what he is thinking, but only at your own risk. More often than not he is plotting a murder, considering the next victim, or twisting seemingly innocent things into dark and demented ideas. A Suspense, Thriller and Horror writer with a dark, twisted sense of humor, Jason strives to make people squirm, cringe, and laugh. He loves to offer a smile, but is quick to leave you wondering what lies behind it. Jason P. Henry is best summed up by the great philosopher Eminem “I'm friends with the monsters beside of my bed, get along with the voices inside of my head.” Learn more about Jason at www.jasonphenry.com

26 comments :

  1. I'm glad you learned to stand up for yourself. Too bad you went to a school where intelligence was a reason to get picked on. Not all schools are like that. I wish I could come to Pike's Peak conference. I've heard lots about it.

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    1. Thank you, Susan! Would love to see you at conference. Let me know what I can do help make that happen!

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  2. Welcome to the BRP, Jason! Great post. :)

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  3. Thank you, Dani! It's a pleasure to be here among such great company. I appreciate the opportunity!

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  4. Very good piece, Jason. I went to a high school where the upperclassmen "initiated" the sophomores. (Our high school was 10-12.) For some reason, no senior initiated me. One day in the hall, a very large gal got into my face and said, "You been initiated yet?" I stood tall, all 5'3" of me to her 6', shaking in my shoies, and said, "No. You going to do anything about it?" She said, "Um, no. Just asking." And off she went. It's exactly like you said. You can be scared, but never let the other party know. That was easier to me than BSP. :-)

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    1. Good for you, Polly! BSP gets easier the more you do it. Soon, people will come to us and ask about our work!

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  5. You are so right: self doubt is the bully inside. Not responding to trolls takes a lot of self control, but you should never feed the trolls. They snort your anger like cocaine for a high.

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    1. Hi, Diana! Exactly. Just read something not long ago where an upcoming writer tried to go toe-to-toe with a troll. It back fired in a bad way and likely ruined a would-be career.

      Embrace the positive and ignore the negative!

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  6. I was in my one-and-only fight in 4th grade. Some bully girl started picking on me, and I had always been taught not to fight. By some quirk of fate, I stepped on her toe, her shoe came off, and she fell backwards, and which point I lit into her with all I was worth. The kids started cheering, I was a hero with them, I got in trouble at home and from the teacher. Talk about confusing mixed messages. But what I learned about myself is what am opportunist I can be! :D Sometime you have to grab the reins in that split second of opportunity.

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    1. Advice, rules, guidelines are great.... And fighting is rarely the right answer. But sometimes it comes down to self-preservation. In life just like in fighting for your place on the bookshelf, If you do not stand and be heard, someone else will be waiting for the glory.

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    2. It's true and there is plenty of competition in the writing world, that's for sure. No surprise, since we have so many more opportunities now.

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  7. I truly believe our worst bully is ourself. We know exactly what will hurt the most! Learning to tune that voice out is an ongoing lesson for me. I'm getting better, but it still hisses from time to time. Perhaps that is why I too write about death and murder! Excellent post, Jason.

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    1. Thank you, Elspeth! I think that, deep within ourselves, there will always be a voice of doubt of criticism. The difference is how you use it. If you listen and allow that voice to hold you back, then it wins. Instead, hear the voice and accept its challenge. Use the self-defeatism as your motivator. Every day that you set out to prove it wrong you have one and there is no better success than that.

      Keep on writing, Elspeth. You are awesome!

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  8. I've never heard that kind of analogy before, finding parallels between standing up to bullies and engaging in self-promotion. What an inspiring concept! Thanks for refueling my engines, Jason.

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    1. It's a good twist, isn't it?

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    2. You're welcome, Cara, and thank you! Good to see you here, you were amazing at conference. Glad I got to meet you.

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  9. Great post. Never considered self-doubt as a bully, but it SO is.

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  10. Hi, Shonell! Self-doubt makes all the other bullies look like wimps. Standing up to that internal demon fuels the courage to stand up to all the rest!

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  11. That was fun - come visit us anytime, Jason. Maybe give us tips on how to organize a writers conference?

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    1. I had a blast! Biggest tip on planning a writing conference - surround yourself with a fantastic team!

      See everyone next time!

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  12. Congratulations on all your successes, Jason ... for me the bully isn't the 220 lb dude with the tear-drop tattoo ... it's the 220 lb couch with the ultra suede fabric in my living room.

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    1. Thank you, Christopher.

      And watch out, the sofas like to sucker punch!

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  13. BSP is so hard. I admire those of you who get out there and do it well (and plan conferences and conventions on the side). :D

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    1. Hi Patricia,

      The more you do it, the easier it gets! You should volunteer for a conference, it is well worth the energy and gets you around great people.

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  14. My observation has been that writers sometimes tend to be introverts. This, I think, makes us great targets for the bullies -- both inside and outside. Your piece inspired me, Jason. I'm going to be referring to it frequently when the reissue of my first novel (upgraded with tweaked content and a fabulous new cover) comes out the end of next week. Thank you for a much needed kick in the BSP backside.

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  15. Thank you, Linda.

    The reissue sounds like it should be spectacular! Let us all know about the launch and keep us posted.

    You'll be fabulous!

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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