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.
Make suggestions.
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.


Kimber An said...

When I started my first novel I was 11 years old. My mother bought be old manuel typewriter at a yard sale and I bandaged my fingers to pound out my story. I'm very thankful to have Orion and other cyber-friends for advice, because it has been difficult as a stay-at-home mother to get out. I was very excited to learn the RWA has a local meeting nearby and at a time good for our packed schedule. Wednesday will be my first night! Things get easier as my children get older and my husband gets more promotions at work. ;)

Zany Mom said...

Thanks for this wonderful post. When I first started writing I had no mentors. Then I found an online writing group, and along with brutal critiques in addition to lots of 'how-to' books I think I'm finally getting the hang of it.

Now if only I could get out of my funk and get busy I'd have that second novel finished in no time. But alas, the characters aren't exactly cooperating with me. ;)

Thanks for the Publisher's Weekly tip. I guess if I'm serious about writing (and I am!) it's time to fork over the dough to get the insider info I need to break into this business.

ORION said...

Glad to help. What is so wonderful about writing is so many people are willing to share and help.
There is not the fear of competition that there is in other fields!

Anonymous said...

I am so very glad I discovered this online comminity of bloggers who are here to not only tell thir sagas as they write, but also have been available to give comments, insights, and who share their knowledge. I can only imagine how much of a fool I would look when I start sending out queries had I not discovered all of the info I have from everyone blogging.

Anonymous said...

What a nice post!
It's true that what goes around comes around - I think it's a sort of scientific rule, lol.
And Paul Theroux!!! I just love his books - Mosquito Coast Blew me away . So wonderfully cynical and true. It must be fun to talk books with him. I love how he's written such differnet genres too - very cool!!
I love the photo of the horse!

ORION said...

Paul writes everything from adventure to character studies (Picture Palace is stunning) and of course his travel books (I love Paddling Through Oceania). I think Hotel Honolulu is a hoot! I am especially in awe of his short stories and essays. He is an amazing mentor and such fun to talk with.
Mosquito Coast is what helped me look at unreliable narrators and determine if I was up to doing that in my third novel.
The fact that he has been so helpful to a novice such as me makes me realize that is an important quality in a writer. To want to talk about and with other writers about writing.
There is no condescension there at all.
He is as thrilled with my success as I am.