Boundbytheword Blog

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Teaching the Teacher October 13, 2010

Filed under: What's Up? — Noelle Bickle / Abby Brooks @ 1:14 PM

My workshop on Shameless Self Promotion was a hit. I had an enthusiastic crowd and the day went off without a hitch. Good signs: everyone writing things down at the same time when I gave a tip, participants nodding in agreement, and laughing at my jokes. Even a mid-workshop question that challenged what I was saying went surprisingly well. There are always highs and lows though, so I thought I’d share mine with my blog readers.

I have two highs for the day actually. The first was a surprize guest. A student came into the room and I instantly knew her.

I won’t give her full name here, but for blog readers who are old childhood friends, it was ”Mrs. L”, our grade 6 French teacher. Her husband taught us in grade 7 and 8, and the two of them were young hip Italians who looked like they walked out of a fashion magazine. You know who I’m talking about!
It was indeed my grade 6 French teacher. It wasn’t hard to spot her – she looks exactly the same – still exotic and hip, so beautiful. The best part was though; she listened attentively, participated fully and smiled when I looked her way – the best kind of student. At the end of the day it was a weirdly delightful experience to have taught my teacher from 30 years ago. Yikes, where does the time go?

The other high of the day was the feedback. I highly recommend evaluations after any workshop. Oh sure, the 10 scores and wonderful comments are great for the ego, that I can’t deny. But beyond that, the students gave great feedback about what they wanted more of, making it so much easier for me to make the workshop stellar for the next group I teach. Constructive feedback. Bring it on, and thank you!

The low, coincidentally, also came from the evaluations. One of the participants gave me high scores across the board, and wrote “You are great!” So good so far, but under comments the participant wrote “I have come to the conclusion that publishing is out of my reach.”

And this is where I fell to the ground sobbing. Okay, not really. But I did say “noooooooo!” and my heart deflated momentarily. I don’t know if there is a worse thing someone could say to a Pollyanna like me, that somehow I squashed a dream. I shudder at the thought.

So I want to do something I advise bloggers not to do, and that is send a personal message via your blog. I don’t know who you are, but I do hope you decided to check out my blog and get this. Either way, I want to say it.

I’m not sure what made you feel overwhelmed or discouraged, but I hope your dreams of writing remain undaunted. Being a writer is much like being an athlete. You have to practice and train, and try to be the best you can be. If you’re lucky, you’ll find encouragement via great coaches and other team mates. But at the end of the day, it is really hard work that just looks easy.

I swear, after watching so you think you can dance I prance around my home feeling like I could do it too. They make it look so easy, like they just let the music take them there. But have you ever seen the auditions on that show? Where some people get on there and you think – what are they doing?

As much as I’m sure they put it on the show to give everyone a laugh, it’s painful for me to see it. They have the same dream as the person who wins it all in the end. Maybe if someone had told them that it takes a lot of hard work, practice, dedication, patience and commitment, and encouraged them to go for their dreams with that reality in mind, that person would stand a better chance of making it. At the very least, that person could walk away with their head held high for doing their best.

A dream without a goal is just a wish. I hope if you dream of being a writer, you write. I hope if you dream to become a published writer, you write, you work hard, you stretch yourself, you put yourself out there and you acknowledge that it isn’t as easy as it looks. But it is so worth the effort if you dream about it.

Soapbox is sufficiently stomped on, but I do hope you hear me cheering you on. Dream it, and do it.


8 Responses to “Teaching the Teacher”

  1. Rhonda Says:

    congrats on a successful workshop, knew you could do it!

  2. Dale Long Says:

    Crongrats on a job well done! I’m sorry I missed it.
    Oh, and your words of encouragement? Well, let me just say that they are universal and even I was encouraged by them. So, not just for beginning writers, but a boost for those of us struggling or just in the blahs.
    I still have those moments where I feel like one of those contestants who think they can dance but really can’t.
    You are going to do SO well at this. You are already off to a flying start.

  3. Ian McMillan Says:

    Hi Noelle,
    I too was at your workshop last weekend and you did an excellent job. Let me add that writers are sometimes easily discouraged. I work as a journalist and over the years I’ve had the opportunity to mentor young writers doing placements. I’ve seen many writers get so down on themselves when questioned by an editor. It sucks when your copy comes back to you and it’s hacked to pieces but it’s not the end of the world. View it as a learning process that we ALL go through. I encourage my reporters every chance I get because enthusiasm is contagious. That’s why I enjoyed your workshop because writers need encouragement. What we do is not a job, it is a lifestyle. I write every day because I Am A Writer! There, I said it. Keep up the good work.

    • Thanks Ian. I find it amazing that we all suffer in silence it seems, struggling with the question of whether we are really a writer. Scary business we are in. But, I’m always glad to help drag monsters out of the closet.

      And yes – you are a writer. Amazing that you are always the last to know, right? Look forward to seeing you next month at the breakfast meeting!

  4. Karen Says:

    I admit it. I am a blog-reply virgin. I’ve never replied to one of these before, so give yourself a pat on the back Noelle for having such a good blog that I just had to comment! I was at the workshop and I’m not the writer who is giving up – I’m just starting out – at the ripe old age of 47! I was encouraged by your tips and your real-life examples. You are inspiring and I thank you for sharing your experiences. To that person who thinks that they should give up on publishing – I say this: If you’ve decided it is not your passion after all, then ok. If, however, it is just too tough, I ain’t buyin’ it. I hope you look at this and see that if someone like me can write and publish with just a dream and a ton of passion, you can too! As Noelle says, it’s like being an athlete. I equate it to the marathon. I could not run even 1km at age 43, but by age 44 I had trained and run a marathon – that’s 42.2km. Some think this is a feat of fitness. I assert that it is a feat of passion – just like writing. With that marathon and with my writing, I have surprised everyone. Especially myself! I still have a ton to learn, but I what I do know is that passion can propel you – if you let it!

    • Wow Karen – I am excited (way too excited actually) that I get to be your first blog-smack! I hope it’s the first of many, because your words are inspiring to me (and to my blog readers I’m sure).

      Writing is very much like a marathon. The training, the exhilaration, doubt, fear, determination, sweat, and the well-earned pride that comes from doing it. I agree with your assertion – writing and running a marathon are all about passion. Like any love, it isn’t always easy, but who’s kidding who? Try as we might, we just can’t live without it.

      I look forward to seeing you at the next meeting, and I am glad you/’ve decided to be true to yourself and give in to your passion. Write on Karen!

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