Boundbytheword Blog

keep updated in the world of Debris

Add a Dash of Manners July 26, 2010

Filed under: What's Up? — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 10:27 PM

My mother is an English rose, so it goes without saying that she delicately pounded me with lessons of etiquette and all-around good manners my entire life.

That being said, our world has changed. Manners, good penmanship and marrying your high school sweetheart have pretty much fallen by the wayside. So it’s inspiring to see that people use good manners even when they really don’t need to.

I spent last week honing my first four chapters (see the changes above under the “meet character” tabs) to send to an agent. It was hard work, often done at a ridiculously late hour based on the fact that it is summer and I have two bored kids chained to my feet. But I did it! I polished the chapters even more and sent a query to a well-respected Toronto agent on Friday.

Whew. It was a relief to finally do it, just hit send and have that hurdle of fear completed. I decided I would completely put it out of my mind, so I didn’t go completely out of my mind as I waited for a reply. Most writers will tell you that wait time for agent response is anywhere from 1 month to 1 year (WHAT??).

So it was with great surprise that I received a response from the agent’s assistant letting me know they received my query, would be delighted (isn’t that nice?) to read my work I submitted. She informed me that the agent was very busy so it would be the end of August before I would hear back from her.

And I just thought – that is so nice. That is manners and professionalism at it’s finest. Agents don’t have to do a thing other than throw your work on the top of the slush pile, so a response letter just to be kind? How lovely is that?

My British mother would be proud of this agency. And I think if that is any indication of how they treat people…sign me up. (oh, please god, sign me up!)

So I will meditate and write and occasionally shake my kids off my legs while I wait with high hopes for this agent with impeccable manners.

So impressed. 🙂


Mummy, you’re bragging. July 17, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 11:55 AM

Reality check. My seven-year old daughter has a gift for giving me those. I’ve been gushing, beaming from the inside out about my experience at the Humber School of Writers and my mentor Wayson Choy. But – during one of my “Wayson loves-me-fests, my daughter grounded me like a concrete block.

“Mummy – you’re bragging.”

And I was. And I have been. But I think I’m done now; so I can shake off the sparkles and dust of conceit and get on with what is important. Honing my craft, and making my first novel, Debris, the very best it can be.

I’ve given myself a deadline of next Wednesday to get the first few chapters more polished so I can send them to two agents I met this week. It was a HUGE gift that they said – send me something, and I just don’t want to blow it.

So – I won’t be bragging on my blog for a while, because I will be doing what I should be – making my novel better. I do want to thank all my blog readers – you guys are the best. Not one of you called me out on my boasting, you just let me wave it boldly, and for that I say thank you. And thanks for coming back! LOL!

I’ll let you know how I feel about the next step in my journey at the end of next week when I have submitted to the agents. Wish me luck again!


Insert Orgasm Here July 15, 2010

Filed under: What's Up? — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 11:07 PM

The big day. The good news is, I was praised by gifted writer who I admire immensely. On the flip side (I won’t call any learning process bad news) I still have work to do. I sort of thought I was done, you know? Like – here I am, tell me I need to be published without delay.

But remember – polish, and edit and spit, oh my!

I’ll be up late tonight trying to ground my readers in a particularity gritty scene of mine that was critiqued today, so that I can show Wayson I understand every one of the two million and forty-eight lessons he taught me this week. It might be a late night.

But I won’t leave you hanging. The critique was wonderful and insightful. My favourite words that passed the lips of Wayson Choy as he spoke of my writing (my writing!!!) were:

“This is a publishable story, very soon maybe” – Wayson Choy
“I love the vividness” – Wayson Choy
“The narrative voice does take over” – Wayson Choy
“It’s funny sad, which is beautiful” – Wayson Choy
“The voice is clever, smart, controlled and vulnerable” – Wayson Choy
“So good because you visualize beyond it, it takes you someplace” – Wayson Choy

And my personal favourite, the one I’m posting all over my writing space:
“It is quite brilliant that way, quite brilliant” – Wayson Choy

I would love to just go to bed and dream about those words, but there is writing to be done. So, off to work I go.

All of your well wishes turned out lucky for me – thanks!


That man has got me giddy

Filed under: What's Up? — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 12:26 AM

I’m giddy as a schoolgirl. The experience of being here at the School for Writers is so surreal. We’ve had agents, publishers, editors and writers saturating us with information of liquid gold. It is just unbelievable. Frank, solid advice that has got my head spinning with to do lists.

The highlight, hands down, has been my mentor, Wayson Choy. He is beyond fabulous, and even though I sit with a class of just 5 others every morning with him, I still am dumb struck by him. His generosity with his wisdom and inspiration is life changing really. I just can’t believe I am a part of it.

Not to brag (but I must today) he has said four things to me personally this week that have made me – the one who NEVER cries – well up like a big ol’ baby. We have to critique our classmates work, and act as editor to their writing. We discuss in detail our thoughts, opinions etc, while the author sits aside and just listens. During these workshop bits, I have participated with as much vigour and wisdom as I dare in front of a great writer like Mr. Wayson Choy. This is what he has said to me during my participation:

1. “Noelle, you have great instincts”
2. “Noelle, you aced that”
3. “Noelle, you are a dangerous reader”
4. “Noelle, – do not ever leave my class”

So, if you are a writer – I know you want to smash me in the face right now, but I also know you understand the depth of my ecstasy with his words. For my blog followers who don’t get what the big deal is, or maybe don’t know who Wayson Choy is (shame on you!) let me just say – the hair on my arms stood on end – no lie.

So tomorrow (actually, today now that I have stayed up way too late again) my writing is being critiqued. I am overwhelmed already and I won’t lie, I am so afraid that he will say – FAKER! What are you thinking??? But I am so hopeful that he will tell me what my strengths are, what my weaknesses are, and kick my ass into being an even stronger novelist.

I promise to let you know how it goes…


Naked on Stage July 12, 2010

Filed under: What's Up? — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 6:09 PM

The Summer Program for Creative Writers has officially begun.

I arrived Friday night. Will chauffeured me down to the Lakeshore to my new digs, which we thought would comfort the kids once they saw me settled in and could picture where I’d be staying.

We got here around 9pm. The kids fought over who got to push the elevator button, and who got to swipe the room key. They shoved each other to get in the door, both wanting to be the first to see the hotel room. Except of course, this is no hotel room. I’m staying in the student residence, which, like any student residence, is no Hilton. No matter, I was excited to have a place all to myself for the first time EVER in my life.

My 11-year-old son walked in, looked around, and announced “Wow, Mum, this place is sort of a dump.”

My 7-year-old daughter sat on the small bed looking distressed. “Is this a jail?” I assured her it was a student dorm, not a jail.

My hubby had said nothing, but looked at me with giant doe eyes. I’m unsure whether they were full of sympathy for me and my not-so-frilly accommodations, or if the reality of the next week had just hit him. Not sure who the sad brown eyes were for – me or him, but I’m pretty sure it’s the latter.

My son was still wandering through the small suite, and stops in the miniature kitchen with the concrete floor. “What are these stains? Ewwww…is it old gum?”

I look at the floor, which indeed is plain concrete and looks like old gum has been diligently scraped off, but left a mass of stains. I convince myself that it was gum, because the alternatives are far grosser than old juicy-fruit.

Lainey’s jumping on the bed, and her arm flails out hard and whacks her brother as he inspects the sheets. He retaliated with a sharp finger flick to her thigh, and all hell breaks loose in the dorm. It was friggin’ Animal House in here.

Lainey asked if she could get a treat for the long ride home. Sugar? Great idea, since I won’t be there. So we all took a stroll down Lakeshore to the 7-11 for supersized slurpees.

Sam, my ever logical and cautious son, looked down every alley. “I think this place is probably filled with robbers and muggers and stuff.”

Lainey, my ever expressive daughter, took a few whiffs along the way and announced, “This place smells just like poo.”

After I said my goodbyes and blew a few kisses, I bolted for the door before anyone could stop me. Then I sat at my wee little desk, in my wee little room, in the Humber student residences. Maybe it’s good that my crazy crew came here to check things out, and formed a pretty harsh judgement of the place, so I’d have to defend my first-ever place of my own. It formed a kinship between me, the concrete walls and the gum stained floors.

Hello, solitary confinement… nice to finally meet you.

Hi again! I had no access to the internet, so although I had great expectations to blog every night, the world of technology had a different idea of my weekend. I wanted to post this update though, because after a completely intense and motivating weekend of lectures with agents, publishers, and writers, I have to let you know, I am LOVING it so far.

The highlight for me was spending this morning with Award Winning Best Selling Author, Wayson Choy. He’s so full of positive energy. Calm, wise, wonderfully encouraging Wayson. It might be possible that he had bursts of light coming from his fingers and toes…I’m not entirely sure. But I do know, that as he taught our class of six students (can you imagine!!!!), he enlightened the intimate table of eager writers, hanging on his every word. He is a brilliant writer, a charismatic teacher, and amazingly, he is so giving of his energy and wisdom. I do believe he does want every single one of us to meet our dreams, and most importantly, become better writers.

My work gets critiqued on Wednesday. Very similar to standing on stage naked. Full frontal naked, with your brain exposed actually. Wayson and the other writers go over their critiques of a partial of my manuscript, while I sit silently. Listening, absorbing, and maybe weeping slightly or wetting my pants. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I am giddy with anticipation…