My best friend, Leslie, and her brother, Jeff, were masters at planning creative strategy, therefore they both held top-ranking neighborhood positions. We were determined to get back at someone. A neighborhood bully sounds almost cliche...unless it's an adult.
What made it worse was she was someone's mother. We were only in elementary school and this horrible woman would insult our new school shoes, our parents, and our houses. Anyone or anything was fair game for this woman. But again, it was the seventies and she was an adult. You couldn't talk back to an adult. It just wasn't done.
Jeff's strategies included more along the lines of dog poop and aerobic activity (a.k.a. ringing the doorbell and running--or, as my daughter, Holly calls it, "ding-dong ditch"). I think that might have been the beginning of my being a real writer, because Leslie and I formed our own spin-off group. We fought back in print. We sat up in Leslie's treehouse and wrote stories. We illustrated them in the form of paper dolls. We even had key pieces of furniture from this woman's house. I can still remember the songs we made up to go along with our paper doll stories. Never has there been a worse villain in literature, than the one we created using this horrible neighbor as our muse. I believe I still draw on my experiences and run-ins with this woman in my writing today.
There's a wonderful saying that I have seen on bumper stickers and t-shirts: "Be careful or you'll end up in my novel."