Sunday, October 10, 2010

Find A Mentor

At Conclave this weekend, I had the pleasure of working with a writers' workshop, offering critiques and suggestions for unpublished writers. One of the discussion topics which emerged (a topic raised by author Lois Gresh) was the importance of finding a mentor.

Stewart Sternberg and friend at his author's reading
Lois explained that she had reached a plateau and invested money in work-shopping her work with an experienced author. She explained it was a critical point in her career. Rick Moore discussed being part of the mentoring program through HWA and receiving guidance from Gene O'Neill. William Jones, publisher and editor, has mentored authors both through the SFWA and HWA. There is also a mentoring program through the National Writers' Union, a member of the UAW.

How one finds a mentor is sometimes a matter of earnest work and sometimes a matter of luck. Some mentors can be life-changing, and some can be a detriment. There are no guarantees. And a mentor doesn't necessarily have to be a published author, but perhaps a teacher, or a peer with more experience with whom you can through teamwork grow and mature as a writer. It's important to network and to learn from others, formally or informally.

7 comments:

Lee Thompson said...

Great post, Stewart. I have a mentor and learned as much from him in the past year as any books or articles I've read because I can't ask a book questions, and sometimes it takes them for me to 'get it,' it being any facet of storytelling.

Christine Purcell said...

I have a great mentor who has helped my writing improve much quicker than I could have on my own. I wish more experienced writers would take on a protege!

SQT said...

I think a mentor can be hugely important on many career paths. My husband is in a non art-related field and found an excellent mentor who has helped guide him through the last 15 years. Would he have done as well without the mentor? Probably. But the relationship helped him avoid a lot of pitfalls along the way. And I also think it helped to have someone to talk to who really understands what he goes through day-to-day.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Lee, where in Michigan are you? I'm curious, too, where you found your mentor. Thanks for checking in.

Christine, let me know if this mentor ever gives you a hard time.

SQT, I think mentorship is an important model, especially in the creative field where one should utilize every opportunity that presents itself.

Jon said...

I might be a good enough mentor, but I'm a crappy mentee...right Stewart?

SQT said...

@Stu-- I agree. I think artistic endeavors can be so isolating. Writing is an easy thing to think you can do on your own. I hate to say it, but I think a lot of self-published authors demonstrate why this is true. Not just from a writing standpoint, but from a business-savvy aspect.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Jon, I think you're thinking about the mint.

SQT...I love when people comment about self publishing. I sit back and wait for the baking soda to hit the vinegar.