Monday, February 13, 2017

MENTOR EXCELLENCE

Me with my mentor, Velda Brotherton

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. ~ William Arthur Ward


I began to seriously write in the late 1990s and joined a critique group headed by Velda Brotherton and Dusty Richards. I was one of two nonfiction writers in that group. We met weekly and since everyone else wrote fiction, I learned about scene, sense of place, point of view, showing instead of telling, and much more. This enhanced my nonfiction writing without me even realizing it because I unconsciously used the fiction techniques I heard about week after week. Later, I found there is a name for this style of writing—creative nonfiction. 

After a few years in this amazing group, I wanted to give fiction a try. Since I enjoyed historical fiction I decided on that genre and wrote about the 1850 Gold Rush, the year the Southern Route to the west opened up. I spent a year researching and then settled in to write. Wow. It was hard. Even though I had sat every week in a fiction critique group for three years, I realized I needed help. 

Thank goodness for Velda Brotherton. She was a multi-published author with major publishing houses. However, she was also a very busy lady. Still, I took a gamble and asked her to mentor me. She graciously agreed. I will always be grateful for the time she invested in me—time she would never get back. Although that book still wants a home, as many first books do, because of what I learned from Velda, I went on to write other books. Finally, my book, Women of Washington Avenue, was accepted by The Wild Rose Press and has since been turned into a series—The Moonlight Mississippi Series.  The second book in the series, Avalee's Gift, will be released March 31st.

I'm so glad I took the plunge and asked Velda to mentor me. However, it didn't end there. I am now returning the favor and investing in other writers. I enjoy encouraging, validating, and mentoring people. And you know what? I always learn when I invest through mentoring.

John Crawford Crosby writes," Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen and a push in the right direction." Simple and oh so helpful. So if you feel you need a mentor, ask someone and also be available to mentor others.

Don't feel you are unqualified. You have something to offer. We can all learn from each other. I used to tell my children, "There is always someone behind you and someone ahead of you. Learn from those ahead of you and grasp the hand of those behind you and help them catch up."

So whether you are grasping a hand for help or offering your hand to help, mentoring is an important element for excellence in writing!




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