Thursday, January 17, 2008

Mental...er, mentors

Weather: Today it's snowing steadily, big, fat flakes. Much nicer than yesterday.

Several fellow writers picked up my meme for their blogs, which makes me oddly cheerful. Proof that I have some impact, however small, on the world, I suppose. {g}

Speaking of impact, and affecting other people--I was somewhat distressed when at least two of my fellow writers declared in their meme answers that they had no mentors. Seriously. NO mentors? How? How can you survive in this crazy-making profession without having somebody to lean on? Somebody you can call when you're despairing, when you need your hand held, or when you have absolutely fabulous news and you cannot wait another single second to share it with somebody who understands?

J.A. Konrath had this to say on his blog this morning:
    I'm lucky that I have half a dozen professional writers on speed dial, and if I get stuck, they're happy to help me out. Naturally, I return the favor. It's a combination of tough love, enabling, and a mutual admiration society, and it is one of the true joys of this business.
Yes. Exactly. For support, I'm amazingly lucky in that I have a small group of writer friends that I can talk to, literally, about anything. We kick each other when we need kicking, sympathize when we need that, and are always (always) ready to celebrate successes large and small.

I understand that is not exactly a mentor, necessarily. That's why for my list I chose two people who have been, and continue to be, mentors for me in specific ways.

Diana Gabaldon has shared her expertise, advice, and assistance with I don't know how many writers over the years, at the Compuserve Books and Writers Forum. I'm fortunate that I also get to see Diana in person every year at Surrey. She's been unfailingly encouraging and helpful to me. She's also fun to drink Scotch with. {g}

Vicki Pettersson is just fun to drink with.

Okay, I'll be serious. Vicki is my shining example of how this writing stuff can work if you put your heart into it. She also shows me every day how to handle successes, how to keep your head down and focus on writing, and how to never, ever forget that it's about doing your best work, in the end.

(Unfortunately, this also gives her the right to say 'I told you so' ad nauseum. If that's the tradeoff, I'm good with that.)

One of my writer friends shocked me the other day by declaring that I was her mentor. I don't see how--since I'm at the beginning of this process myself--but I sure the heck was flattered. When I get a little further along, that is definitely one of my goals. Pay it forward. Encourage others. Be the one they want to call, be the helping hand.

You gotta have mentors in this process, IMO. I know I wouldn't make it without 'em.

4 comments:

Julianne said...

Susan,

So, yeah, I was one of the ones who said I don't have a mentor. :) I'd love to, but being a stay-at-home mom who spends her days driving carpool or playing in the sandbox, I don't run into published writers often enough to develop personal relationships with them. Yes, Diana is always generous with her help on the Forum, as are other published writers there, but it's not like I can call her up at home and ask for private advice. I'm jealous you have her and Vicki to turn to! :)

Better watch out, or I'll have to claim YOU as my mentor, like your friend did! {g}

Susan Adrian said...

Julianne:

I know. I didn't want to make you feel BAD for not having one, it's just...that it seems like it would be so much harder. I KNOW how lucky I am. I think I was just reiterating that.

You can meet published writers from home, though, easy--on their blogs, on the forum, etc. They'll answer questions if you ask. They like to, probably, most of them. Paying it forward. {s}

[I'll have to claim YOU as my mentor]

Dude, no. I'm at exactly the same place as you. Friend, you bet. {g}

Catherine Karp said...

I was thinking of a writing mentor in the more traditional sense of a wise, established writer who passes on Yoda-like wisdom. I've got the writer pals for support and invaluable feedback, so I'll change my answer to a yes if we're looking at mentors in that sense. I have yet to meet my Yoda, though.

Susan Adrian said...

Cathy:

LOL! No, no Yoda.

Passion you must write your. {g}