Monday, October 30, 2006

Ethnic Women's Lit Author seeks Mentor...

I've only recently begun to understand the importance of having a mentor. My mentors at Microsoft are people I can turn to when I'm facing a work crisis and need someone to bounce ideas off of, learn from their experience, or when I just need someone to listen and tell me I'm doing the right/wrong thing. My mentors at work advise me on my technical skills, career-planning, and handling day-to-day work.

I'm starting to think I need a mentor for my writing as well. Someone to talk to about my relationship with my writing agency, writing young adult vs. adult, following the market, etc. This person would have to be someone who likes my work and thinks I have what it takes to "make it." This is the person I would thank on the top line of my acknowledgements for all their help and support.

I know a lot of people in the writing world have mentors. They are people writers talk to everyday or even once a month. They are people writers go to when they need honest, open feedback about the writing life. This field can be so lonely sometimes. I'm so lucky to have my wonderful crit partners and the Buzz Girls on my side, but I think it's time I looked to pursue a formal mentorship relationship.

I'm 4 years old in the industry with 4 books under my belt. What I'm looking for is someone with maybe 5+ years experience who is or is not published, but someone who is passionate about literature.

So what about you guys? How many of feel that you have what it takes to mentor a fledgling writer? How many of you feel that you could still use a mentor? What would you look for out of this relationship?

Dona Sarkar-Mishra
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Chapters & Chai - Read all about it


TinaFerraro said...

I'm all for mentoring. In fact, I've been the mentor of a aspiring teen writer for almost a year. We work via e-mail and take close looks at her scenes, as well as talking about the broader strokes of the writing business, how she should proceed and what she should expect.

In turn, she's helped me with slang and fashion tips for my heroines, and this holiday season, she's going to help me develop a MySpace site.

Best of luck to you in your search, Dona. And I hope you develop the same kind of special friendship that my mentee and I share.


Marley Gibson said...

I'm all for mentoring, too. I don't think it can be "forced" (not that you were, Dona), but has to be more "organic."

I am very fortunate to have been mentored and groomed by a wonderful, caring, giving author, Jessica Andersen
. She welcomed me to my second RWA meeting, talked to me, gave me a lot of advice and told me how to pitch my story at conference. It was one of those things that just...happened.

I would say, just keep making friends, going to conferences, getting out on the loops and you'll find someone. And I hope you find that same wonderful, trusting friendship.

Marley = )

Young Adult Authors said...

Careerwise, I have definitely had a mentor -- Pat White. She's different than a critique partner in that we talk about career stuff and set goals, we don't really critique each other's work. What makes her my mentor is the fact that she's a few steps ahead of me in publishing and was willing to share her experiences and advice with me.

I think if you can find someone like that, Dona -- it could really help. But on the other hand, maybe just strategizing about what career direction you want to go in could be beneficial.

Do any of you other guys have written career plans?

Simone Elkeles said...

No writtten career plans for me, I'm just riding the wave of being published and loving it.

I don't have a "mentor", but there's a lot of people in my writing group that are wonderful for different things. My "mentor" in life as well as my writing is my friend Karen Harris. She isn't published yet, but she's amazing at finding out what doesn't fit into my books and what does. She also gives me life advice, so I'm pretty much calling her every few days. She's an amazing lady, and so "right on". I feel lucky to have her in my life.

Dona, you'll find that person. If you don't, call me.

~Simone Elkeles
How to Ruin a Summer Vacation in bookstores NOW!

Me said...

I definitely have a mentor (although she may be an unwitting one). When I joined my first RWA chapter I sought out Shane Bolks (aka Shana Galen) for two reasons: 1) She was super friendly and welcoming at my first meeting. 2) She had just sold to my dream house, Avon.

We have since become good friends. Whenever I have a writing business-related question, she's the one I turn to. It was her insistence on finding an agent first that led me down the right path. We've critiqued each other's stuff a few times--mainly when we need a fresh set of eyes or when our critique partners are unavailable. I can safely say that I would not be sold right now without Shane's guidance.

Still, my advice Dona is the same as Marley's. I don't think the relationship can be forced. It just develops naturally. Thank goodness for the RWA--you have a never ending supply of new friends that might develop into that role. =)