Of course, I know what you’re visualizing: you walk into a workshop or writing class and lo! JamesPattersonStephenKingRKRowling [or author of your choice] is participating in the workshop when a selection of your writing is presented to the group. And JamesPattersonStephenKingRKRowling [or author of your choice] loves your writing sample! And you! They love you! Why, by golly, you two (or three or four) hit it off so darn well that the next thing you know, you’re all having drinks in the bar and JanetReidNathanBransfordJessicaFaust [or agent of your choice] walks up to see what all the fuss is about. Then JamesPattersonStephenKingRKRowling [or author of your choice] tells JanetReidNathanBransfordJessicaFaust [or agent of your choice] how you two just met and what a fabolicious writer you are and . . .
The neighbor’s dog barks and wakes you up from your nap.
But that’s how we all visualize a mentor stepping into our lives, isn’t it? And it’s not so far off the reality scale that it doesn’t actually happen from time to time. Michael Hughes acquired his agent by attending a workshop and gaining a referral. I acquired my first agent by attending creative writing classes taught by a published author and attending a convention where she introduced me to her agent.
However, this time around, my circumstances are a little different. I have family and job related obligations that prevent me from hitting the conference circuit as much as I would like.
I’m also something of an introvert. I’m just fine behind the computer, but the minute you put me around real, breathing people, my brain goes into a seizure and all I can do is blurt horribly interesting phrases like: Ohmygod-it’s-really-you-I-adore-your-books/blog-I’ve-written-a-book-and-when-you’re-done-in-the-bathroom-can-we-talk-I-sound-like-a-total-jackass-right? Am I right?
Oh yeah. Let’s face it, if I was socially adept, I’d be in marketing or sales, not cataloging books in the library basement.
Of course, my hearing (or general lack thereof) also plays a large factor in my adaption to an online life. I can’t interact in a face-to-face conversations the way I can online, because I often miss words or in some cases entire sentences in face-to-face conversations. Traveling alone is a nightmare for me, because PA systems in airports that are semi-intelligible to most people might as well be in Chinese to me.
Because my own circumstances have changed so dramatically since my last adventure in writing and publishing, I thought I’d take a different approach to writing mentors this time. The online atmosphere suits me just fine and allows me to interact with other people in ways I haven’t done in years. In the beginning, I lurked and read blogs without commenting, then I started following this great lady named Kathryn Magendie.
I was enchanted by her enthusiasm, her voice, and the wonder she had of seeing her first novel published. She spoke from her heart, and it was a joy to watch her career take off. She taught me to be grateful for every success, no matter how small, but to always strive for greater achievements. You see, Kathryn was my first online writing mentor, and she has turned into a great online friend.
The same has held true for Lisa Mannetti, who encourages novices to the publishing world with her own brand of enthusiasm and wise guidance. Elizabeth Spann Craig has been kind enough to tweet some of my posts, but she writes a wonderful blog of her own that I’ve followed for some time. Elizabeth’s blog, Mystery Writing is Murder, has been recognized as one of Writers Digest’s 101 Best Websites for Writers.
Other authors who’ve served as mentors to me (whether they know it or not), are: Alex Bledsoe, Erica Hayes, Robert Dunbar, Hilary Wagner, Corrine De Winter, Jen K. Blom, and Joe McKinney. They have patience with people like me, who are seeking publication, in addition to a great devotion to the craft of writing. They all lead by example and share their knowledge or insights through their blogs and Twitter.
In my turn, I try to support them by buying their books, commenting on their blogs, and following their careers. That’s how I can give back to them for their generosity of spirit to me.
So tell me: do you have a published author that you use as a mentor? How do they encourage you and do you support their work? And if you’re published, did you have mentor and do you try to mentor others?