Boundbytheword Blog

keep updated in the world of Debris

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.

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Anchors Away… February 7, 2011

Well my fingers are resting nicely back on the keyboard. Ahhhhh, yes, that feels wonderful. There was no internet connection on the Disney Ship (or rather, it was outrageously priced packages that I choose not to invest in while on vacation), so I wasn’t able to check in at all and I’ve missed you!

Though I am eager to be back at it, the vacation did not lend to rejuvenation from R&R. Taking a cruise, I’ve learned, is much like being at an amusement park everyday of your holiday. And being on a Disney cruise meant on top of it all, our favourite Disney characters could be lurking around at any time, so we needed to be camera ready at all times.

Don’t get me wrong, the vacation was quite spectacular. The Disney Magic cruise ship itself boasted two theatres, three pools, separate age specific kids clubs, five restaurants, three take-out stands, several stores, and countless activities areas including an outdoor basketball court and a water slide.

We did not want for food. It was endless (even 24-hour room service), delicious, and offered with such variety that the five pounds I gained was a welcome surprise based on the fact that I was sure it would be closer to ten. No complaints with the food, not a one.

The days on land were fantastic – the beach at St. Maarten was lovely, St. Thomas and snorkelling with turtles, parrot fish and an octopus was lovelier, and Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island) was a kid’s paradise. The day spent there was exceptional, with white sand beaches and water slides into the ocean, Captain Jack Sparrow walking about, and all you can eat ice cream. The kids were never bored, not for one second, but that was essentially the problem.

It was all systems go, all the time.

Great for people who don’t like to stop, like, ever. Our family is much like our golden retriever, we like to have fun, play, eat, run around, but then we like to rest, then rest some more.

I probably would have preferred more days on the beach, dividing time to snorkel, lay in the sun, dig in the sand, and rest in a hammock as the standard of my vacation. I like down-time, and by that I mean I want to lie down. I want to feel like I don’t have to rush off to the next adventure until my body yells out – get up, lazy bones!

In keeping with the commotion, as a writer, I count on people-watching to inspire me. There’s no need to fabricate a character, the world is filled with them. But on a trip that is so non-stop crazy busy, I don’t get the required stop-and-gawk time required to absorb the characters around me. I don’t have the space in my head to formulate plot lines or plan out scenes. I need quiet for that process.

I work with so many talented writers within the Writers Community of Durham Region (WCDR), who unlike me, can write under loud, crowded or chaotic circumstances. James grew up in a house full of kids (six or eight if I recall) so he prefers noise over quiet, he just blocks it out and writes away. Dale always has music playing in the background; something he feels inspires his creativity. But me, I write best sitting in my pajamas in an empty house with no white noise. Maybe it comes from years of only writing late at night, and into the wee hours long after everyone went to bed. Maybe it’s because the noise in my head can’t compete with outside voices. Who knows?

I do know that this vacation was a complete break from writing. No typing, no plotting, no outlining, not even any thinking when it came to my writing world. So, vacation behind me, I am bursting at the starting gate and ready to fly. As exciting and luxurious as it was, it’s good to be home. Now back to business!