Saturday, November 25, 2006
What Goes Around Comes Around...
6 am and 75 degrees.
The subject today is mentoring. Helping. Giving advice.
Ironically I was going to write about this anyway and was moved to on two fronts. The AW discussion board and questions from my cyber-friends.
When I started my first novel I was all alone. There was no one else in the world doing what I was doing (at least that's how it seemed to me). This was BC (before computers). I never finished.
When I finally finished a novel, I talked with my sister who is also a writer. We would talk "writerly stuff." I found it helpful. That is what motivated me to go to the Maui Writers Retreat and Conference where I met several authors who helped me.
Holly Kennedy was instrumental (order her book The Tin Box from Amazon- it is SUCH a fun read! Her next one The Penny Tree is awesome and will be out spring 07- I got to read an earlier version).
Holly took me by the hand and started me out learning the business. She had me sign up for Publishers Marketplace and start paying attention to the sales - who was making them and where. She helped me re work my query and was the first one who said SLOW DOWN and write your next book and the next. Writing is a business like anything else. Because people consider it art I believe they lose sight of that fact.
Holly helped me. She read my query over and over. She gave of her time. Without her help I would not be to this point.
At Maui I met many writers and started to develop a network. My retreat teacher Jacqueline Mitchard has a huge affect on my writing. She tells me like it is and has always been there. I know of no other author at the Maui conference that makes herself available so selflessly. (check out her link and her discussion board - check out the Maui students thread- you'll learn a lot)
My horse Airborne led me to the greatest influence on my writing - the author Paul Theroux. He and his wife wanted to learn to ride and I used to be a professional trainer and instructor. Our relationship has evolved into a mentoring friendship that is amazing. He has helped me to harness my "hasty" nature and slow my editing down. He has developed my critical eye and I read differently after hearing him say, "You can learn a lot from a great writer writing badly."
He suggested I read Maugham...Simenon...Camus...
He reads deliberately, focused on learning and perfecting his craft. He writes voraciously - articles, travel books, novels...he puts me to shame.
Yet. He tells me my ideas are wonderful. He lets me know when my writing shines. He is not stingy with his praise, but is fair and brutally honest with his criticism.
So I strive to help other writers as these writers have helped me.
Show them the ropes.
Give feedback honestly. Fairly.
But saying what is good also.
It's about the craft of writing.
And learning the mechanics of the business.
Because if that is what you focus on. The other will come naturally through perseverance, dogged determination and sheer will.