Editor's Notes: Mentors

I have been thinking a great deal about mentoring recently: giving, seeking, maybe a bit of mutual give and take.  No matter where you are in life, there is always someone who has been there and done that on some scale, in some sort of semblance.

Throughout my life, I have had mentors, and those from when I was younger still retain the most prominent places in my heart.

The Relief Society president who believed when I was in my early twenties whose love and careful guidance while I served in a position that seemed to large for me prepared me for the next which felt overwhelming.  Hard on the heels of that calling, I was put in a Relief Society presidency.  Another dear, dear sister provided me with the strength and guidance I required in dealing issues way, way over my head and kept me from foundering.  She gave me confidence when I had none, soothed my hurts with wise words, and even lit the path before me far more than she ever realized.

When I remember these ladies, my heart fills with love and appreciation for the examples they set me and the things they taught me which have served me in good stead for the past twenty-five years.

Here I am now in the same place or even advanced of those ladies then and find myself providing mentoring others but at the same time requiring some myself.  Fortunately, like them, I find a great deal of fulfillment in giving back a bit of what others have bestowed upon me.  In writing, especially, I look to those I emulate to light the path ahead of me.  Fortunately, I have a wealth from which to choose.

My favorites are writers and editors who also blog, sharing the secrets to their success.  I guess you could call their blogs my Three Gospels of Writing.

The first is Susannah Lakin of Live, Write, Thrive.  I have reviewed two of her books here (Conundrum and Intended for Harm) and loved both.  I use her posts to educate not only my writers but myself.  She has a long list of both published works and publishing credits which all contribute to her style.  Her unique voice is easy, approachable, and connects with her readers.  She teaches as well as instructs.  She is also very charming and her warmth, empathy and perception shine through her works. She provides editing services for writers who want to perfect their manuscripts before submitting them to publishers.

Next is Stephen Parolini, The Novel Doctor, also with huge street creds in the publishing world.  His wry sense of humor and sarcasm sit well with me (odd duck that I am), and I adore his tag line:  some people learn best from step by step instruction.  This blog isn't for themHis latest post on wild fires, personal and forest, inspired me to write this post.  Stephen writes short stories here and also provides in-demand editing services.  Like Susannah, I want to be like him when I grow up.

I find Larry Brooks of StoryFix.com another invaluable resource.  His book, Story Engineering, is actually in my purse at the moment.  I have asked all my writers to purchase it.  His blog also offers a terrific free peer review page where writers can seek much needed feedback on their work.  Fantastic idea.  Besides books on writing, Larry has published several novels.

Finally, while discussing mentors, I would be sorely remiss if I failed to mention my good friends over at American Night Writers Association.  Becoming a member of this group has propelled me down my path to becoming a true author, has introduced me to a myriad of wonderful people and, quite literally, has changed my life.

The good ladies of ANWA are kind, supportive, friendly, and experienced.  Those who have been published warmly share their hard-earned knowledge with those of us who haven't.  They provide helpful critiques, much needed encouragement, and make the absolute best cheering section in the world.

I believe the support of a association, club, group or whatever type of organization a writer finds to serve the purpose plays an important part in their education and their journey.  Good writers cannot exist in vacuums.  They require the push and pull, the give and take of life to provide the fodder for their prose.  Writers groups provide that, as they provide mentors for those just dipping their feet into the waters of authorship, and mentoring opportunities for those who have become hardy swimmers.

No matter what you write, if you are serious about the craft and do not already belong to one, find a support network.  There are untold numbers of them out there, some of which are included in my "Birds of a Feather" scroll to the right.  Find the mentors who speak to your soul, whose work you admire, and learn.  When we cease to learn, we stagnate, and nothing spells death to the muse more quickly.

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