Today I have a guest post from author Tori L. Ridgewood entitled “Why Mentors Are Important”. After reading the guest post, be sure to enter the giveaway for a copy of Tori’s book Wind and Shadow.
Every writer needs a support network. A close friend or loved one to bring a hot caffeinated drink when you’re tired, and answer the phone when you’re in the middle of a passage and cannot lose the thread. Friends to whom you can muse about your developing plot and characters — and who won’t think you are too crazy when you speak of imaginary people as though they were living, breathing entities watching you sculpt their worlds with carefully chosen words. Fellow writers with whom to commiserate on negative reviews, editing frustrations, plot problems and research. But among the writer’s circle of support, the mentor is a glowing jewel of an individual, a founding member without whom the rest is less effective.
A mentor has many functions for both the novice and experienced writer. She is a sounding board, to whom the writer can pose ideas for consideration, seek reassurance or advice on professional decisions, and honest opinions on creative products. He listens carefully and offers suggestions, often acting as an unbiased observer, but can turn on the bias when appropriate to bolster the writer’s spirits.
With these functions in mind, a writer’s mentor can also be a beta reader. After all, who else would we trust to have first-look and first-critique of the product we’ve held close to our hearts for months, or even years? We look to our experienced and trusted advisors to let us know what needs fixing, because it may be less painful than the judgement of an impersonal editor and less uncritical than the eyes of a close friend who wants to avoid hurting our feelings. Mentors don’t necessarily want to spare our feelings, but neither does an effective mentor want to leave us open to criticism. Mentors simply want us to reach our potential.
I am fortunate to have three mentors in my writing circle. I met them in the course of contributing to anthologies, and while we have never formally established a mentor-mentee contract, it’s simply how I see them. They are women who have more experience in the publishing industry than myself, whose achievements are both admirable and worthy of emulation.
For example, from one of my mentors, I’ve learned the importance of having a regular writing habit, using spreadsheets to track characters, plot points, promotional work, and submissions. Tara Fox Hall is the epitome of organization in writing, whose advice I have turned to regularly over the last few years.
Another stellar author, Jenny Twist, has mentored me in some of the ins and outs of the publishing industry, how to take critique constructively, and the importance of researching and style.
And Mysti Parker is my unofficial mentor in promotions, setting the bar high in terms of publicity, online parties, blogging, and online interactions in general.
Does a mentor relationship need to be formalized? In my experience, no. Some individuals might feel pressured to perform if they know they’ve been labeled as an experienced advisor on whom you depend. Others see it as a compliment, and a very few might even let it go to his/her head. I think it’s most effective (in this industry) when a mentor is also a friend, someone with whom to have a casual conversation as well as to seek advice, but the mentoring is voluntary. We have enough formal expectations placed on us in our traditional workplaces, in our spiritual gatherings, and in our home lives — for writers, establishing boundaries with a mentor can happen gradually and organically as the relationship develops. I would never, for example, approach someone directly and ask “Will you be my mentor?”, though I know some would be comfortable with that approach. For myself, it’s enough that I have examples to follow, friends I can ask questions of in order to receive a knowledgeable answer, and standards to achieve. That is the most value a mentoring relationship can provide, I believe.
So, fellow writers, choose your mentors wisely, and if you like, keep them to yourself for a while. They are your models, and you don’t want to overwhelm them with that knowledge or spoil the potential for a long-term relationship. Your mentor should be someone who is successful in some way, who is easy to talk to, and is also very much a friend. Writing cannot happen in a vacuum, and neither can writers live without someone to cheer us, push us, and provide an example to follow.Wind and Shadow (The Talbot Trilogy #1) by Tori L. Ridgewood
Published by Melange Books on Jun 1, 2013
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Find the book: Amazon, Smashwords, Goodreads
Rayvin Woods, photographer and natural witch. She just wanted to start her life over again after a series of misadventures. She didn’t count on rekindling a lost love when she came home to Talbot…or battling a malevolent vampire and his coven for her life.
Grant Michaels, police officer. He thought Rayvin was a murderer. He will do whatever it takes to protect the community he loves from danger…but will he learn to trust his heart, and the word of a witch, before it’s too late?
Malcolm de Sade, cunning vampire, imprisoned underground for a year by Charlotte Fanning and Pike Mahonen (“Mist and Midnight”, Midnight Thirsts). His accidental release unleashes his hunger and ambition on a small, sleepy town…
Facing the past can be a nightmare. It’s worse when a vampire is stalking you.
Win a Kindle copy of Wind and Shadow (The Talbot Trilogy #1) by Tori L. Ridgewood by using the Rafflecopter form below. Open worldwide until Dec 9, 2013.