Boundbytheword Blog

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Small fish, big pond January 12, 2012

I’ve called Simcoe County my home for over two years now. Time flies. I love the boonies and the move was beneficial in so many ways to me and my family, even to my dog. Because my family and friends are still rooted down there, I visit often, but there are other things in Durham I can’t give up either.

I’m an active member of the Writers Community of Durham Region. WCDR is a large community (350+ members) that holds a monthly meeting where writers of all levels meet to network, break bread, and settle in to listen to a guest speaker. We’ve had best-selling and award-winning authors, agents, editors and other publishing industry speakers that give us tangible advice to find success as writers. We always have an amazing breakfast too (this month – chocolate stuffed french toast is one of the options). The morning always leaves me feeling inspired. You don’t have to be a “writer” to attend either. If you’ve ever thought of writing or if you like one of the speakers we have lined up – you can register and check it out. The amazing thing about being in a room with 150 people – you can always find a new friend or an empty seat with your name on it.

Anyway – this month, directly after the breakfast meeting I’m teaching a mini-workshop – Blogging Basics. I offer this in the Barrie area as well, but I can’t seem to get those workshops off the ground. I need 5 people registered in order to justify the space rental, and I can’t seem to entice that many local writers to sign up. It’s disheartening. It’s discouraging. I keep telling myself I just have to be patient. But that isn’t my strongest character trait.

So back to the WCDR mini-workshop  – I’ve been tweaking and reading over my material this week and decided I better check in to see how many people have registered so I can print off handouts. I’d hoped to get a dozen. A dozen, I told myself and I won’t feel bad. I won’t feel like a dud if I have a dozen registrants. Because here’s the thing – I know it’s not healthy or comforting or smart to put a the value of my worth up against the number of people interested in something I teach, or a party I host, or a event I organize. I know this. But, I’m human and flawed, so I do put that connection together. Twelve, and I’ll be good.

There was a pregnant pause from Theresa on the phone when I called to get the final number registered. I started to panic.  She stammered a bit, said – “Well, here’s the thing,” then stammered again, which was just long enough for me to start to think they were going to cancel the workshop due to lack of numbers. Two WCDR members had tweeted over weekend that they had registered – so I knew the number wasn’t zero, but I began to panic that this would be the first cancelled workshop due to crap response.

Damn. I have to get up and announce the breakfast speaker that same day. It’s an agent. A very reputable literary agent. And at some point she will hear that the workshop is cancelled due to lack of registrants. I picture it in my head. I picture it very vividly. I see the president make the announcement.  I see the entire room look over at me with pity. I see the agent sip her tea and try not to notice she is sitting next to the dud who can’t get five measly registrants to hold the class, let alone the twelve she needs to keep her ego intact.  Surely my writing sucks as much as my ability to form a crowd at the “Blogging Basics” boardroom, and now the whole room knows it.  I simply stink, so I slink under the table and suck my thumb. The room fades to black.

“It’s okay Theresa, just say it. Out with it.” I brace myself.

“So, here’s the thing. We have thirty-nine registered, so we need to change rooms – are you okay with the long narrow room?”

Exsqueeze me? Thirty-nine? Cue the happy-dance music.

After I get off the phone, I have to ask myself how and why I’m still so insecure. I have two amazing parents who love me and nurtured me throughout my childhood, and a sister who is always in my corner. I was blessed to have many friends growing up – many of which are still essential in my life today. I have kids who think I am better than I really am, and a husband who loves me no matter how crazy the day looks, how many pounds I put on, and how much I leave him to manage the home on his own so I can follow my passion of writing. Heck, I’ve even had co-workers, neighbours, acquaintances and even customer service representatives that have made my life easier, better, happier. All in all – it’s a good life.

So why does my instinct go there when it comes to the root of it all?  You’d think after many years of therapy and self-reflection out the ass, I’d be able to conquer that one. I wonder if this ever ends – this feeling of not quite reachable satisfaction with successes. If I get published, will I have a moment of happy and then months or years, or (god forbid) decades of self-doubt? I guess I’ll leave that issue for another day. For today, I’m very happy. There is a “Sold Out” notice on the website under my name for the workshop  – which means the room of 45 seats have been filled. And that reflects how many people want blogging basics and not how many want Noelle Bickle. Logically, I know this. But that little mouse voice – who I affectionately call Sally Fields – she feels validated.

At least until the next workshop I run at the end of the month.


27 Responses to “Small fish, big pond”

  1. k Says:

    So thrilled for you, Noelle! You deserve it. Your last workshop was amazing…wouldn’t miss this one!

  2. Cryssa Bazos Says:

    You have a great blog, Noelle. I always look forward to my next instalment of Bound by the Word. Keep it going and congratulations on the numbers!

  3. Rhonda Says:

    So proud of you for selling out your workshop!!
    But did you really just end a blog about over-senstive insecurity by stating that people didn’t sign up for the presenter only the topic. Earlier in your message about WCDR meetings you mentioned that people sometimes come just for the presenter! You are selling yourself short once again. I would bet that some people who know you and love you from the group signed up to hear YOUR presentation and would do so regardless of the topic!
    Go rock the house girlfriend!

    • You always catch me! Maybe I should do a workshop on porn and see if your therory is correct. Or – maybe not. Porn might be the wrong topic. Knitting? Yes – if they all signed up for a knitting workshop, then I would know it’s was for me not the topic. Now I just need to learn to knit.
      PS – did you just call me over-sensitive and insecure? 😉

  4. Janet Says:

    “There is a “Sold Out” notice on the website under my name for the workshop  – which means the room of 45 seats have been filled. And that reflects how many people want blogging basics and not how many want Noelle Bickle.”

    You see, this is where I have to disagree with you, Noelle. Because if I hadn’t been busy this weekend, I would have registered for your workshop. And not because I need to know more about blogging, but because I have am confident the workshop would be a lot of fun and I would, no doubt, learn something new.

    Those lucky, lucky registrants 🙂

  5. Dave Jones Says:

    HA HA, Noelle! Good for you. I think that calls for a, ‘Yoo da woman!!’

  6. deepamwadds Says:

    Oh my dear… they want YOU, of course, because you rock, entertain, inform, delight and enliven. Look down. See? You’ve got your big girl pants on, and they fit you just fine.

  7. I completely understand, I completely get it and in my heart I am so completely hugging you!

  8. Dennis Says:

    Good for you SISTA you go ( I dont think there is anyone in the world that does not go the same thing you are going through.) The voices in our head That tell us we will fail. I have a stephen king novel in my head when i have to do a presentation at work I have to constantly tell myself to stop beating myself up. Its amazing what other people can see in us we cant see. You know the old saying Noelle ( If 10 people tell you that you have a tail growing out of your ass. Chances are you better turn around and have a look at it.) I know there are more then 10 people that tell you that you are very good at what you do including Me.

    • That’s funny – and reminds me of a saying my mom always said – if you get in a disagreement with someone, it might be about them. If you get in disagreements with more than two – it’s probably you.

      Thanks too for the nice comment – made me smile 🙂

  9. Lisa Llamrei Says:

    Don’t expect a hug from me. I’ll just give you a great big “Atta Girl” instead.

    I’m glad I signed up for the workshop before the big “Sold Out” sign went up. I signed up because I’m looking to inject new life into my blog, but honestly, I’d have signed up for anything you were teaching. Even knitting. Especially porn – OMG, I can’t think of a more entertaining way to spend an hour than in a porn workshop taught by Noelle Bickle.

    P.S. If you’re serious about the knitting thing, I can teach you.

    • Atta Girl is well receieved too!

      I have to agree – a porn workshop would be a ton of fun. Perhaps not skill building, but fun!

      I would love to learn to knit, but when the hell do we find the time? Next dinner party perhaps…lol.

  10. Mary Says:

    I understand a little anxiety can actually help you perform better. This should be a great workshop!

  11. John Geddes Says:


    “I wonder if this ever ends – this feeling of not quite reachable satisfaction with successes.”

    I am not a professional in this area, but I expect the honest answer is that the feeling will never end. It never has for me. And this is not entirely a bad thing. I think is a large part of what keeps me moving forward. If you combine this feeling with enough confidence that the future is just waiting to be made better then isn’t this what life is about? That said, we should all take “time out” to enjoy the view from where we are!!

    My final thought — you are not alone in this. We all have these fears. We all imagine the bogey man still lives under the stairs. The important thing is to always have the courage to confront the bogey man — he usually runs away ((-:

    All the best for 2012

  12. Nettie Says:

    Good workshop, Noelle, but since you couldn’t spend every second of it on me and me alone, I need more 🙂

    And you are selling yourself short — I signed up because of your reputation as having a brain, being able to effectively deliver a message, and being well respected at WCDR. The topic alone would not have sold me.

    • Many thanks Annette. The room of was full of so many good questions – it kept me on my toes!

      PS – I especially like the part about my reputation as having a brain. I’m printing that out and posting it for the days I feel the blond is getting the best of me! 🙂

  13. […] however, I had an epiphany. I took a blogging workshop taught by my friend and writing colleague Noelle Bickle. She stressed the importance of blogging consistently about subject matter that is of interest to […]

  14. Mona Says:

    Noelle, your workshop was great! After a loooong slump, I left inspired to research, write and learn more about blogging. You crammed a lot of info into our short time together and it was so valuable. I’m taking a page from your book and from now on I’ll post comments on the blogs I read. This comment is my first, ever. ;O)
    I think my favorite quote from you was “Ten other people relate to crazy.” I’m one of the ten and one of your fans. High five and rest knowing that~ we like you, we REALLY like you!

    • Mona – thank you! But let me get this straight – are you calling me crazy? 🙂

      It was great to see you in the workshop and feel your positive energy in the room! Happy blogging and congrats on losing your comment virginity. I feel honoured!

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