A writing mentor can make all the difference. I have had several. Now one of my greatest joys is to be one.
And I absolutely still need one.
I think the most effective and empowering mentoring is organic. A friendship is growing. You have work in common. One of you is a little further ahead down the road. The best mentoring relationship grows up naturally from the mixed garden of generousity and humility. A generous mentor gives away knowledge for free, in gratitude for all they have learned themselves. A humble recipient knows a gift when they see one and does not waste it with pride.
Competition, which of course exists in freelance writing, is set aside as a more experienced writer shares insights, experience, tips and opportunities for the good of another. Sue, for example, met with me over coffee, encouraged me, invited me into a writer’s group I didn’t really have the right to be in, and even encouraged an editor who gave her work to give me some too. Larry taught me as an instructor, and then welcomed me into several writing projects over the years as a collaborator. He critiques, cheers on, calls for better when better is required, and encourages me to reach for the highest apple on the tree.
Now, I try to be a Sue and a Larry whenever I can. I’m especially soft in the heart for young women writers who are trying to find their place in the writing world while pushing swings and strollers. So, take a moment to think of the Sue and Larry in your life, and say thanks. And challenge yourself to be a Sue and a Larry right back.