No, this isn't a treatise on aliens invading our world (though if you watch the news on any given night you might think so). Instead, I want to share a few thoughts about writers and their mentors.
Oh, sure, everyone knows what a mentor is; a trusted counselor or guide. We've all had them in our lives. We weave them into our stories. Vogler discussed the necessity of them in "The Hero's Journey." They make the way easier. They teach and they scold and they make you better.
I did not realize when I started seriously pursuing publication in 2000 how important mentors would be to me. I could not have progressed nor learned so much without their input and advice and example.
My "first" was Renee. A member of a local chapter she was the first one to EVER read any of my work. I was a wreck. I broke out into cold chills, my heart was racing, my mind was whirling and she'd only read 5 pages. She looked at me and said "This is so much better for a first effort than mine ever was....now let me show you how to fix it." She suggested changes, she taught me about POV and conflict and pacing. She praised me when I took what she'd said and applied it to my writing. And I started getting it.
And then she said "Don't quit your day job."
Talk about a bubble popper! She wasn't saying it to be mean or degrade my progress. She was telling me to base my expectations in reality. Writing was hard work. Getting published was a process. I wasn't going to get rich overnight. (Darn. Cancel that seaside cottage in Ireland). But it fostered within me a dedication to the craft and fueled my basically stubborn nature to keep at it until I succeeded.
I started attending RWA National conferences. I learned from mentors who ate lunch with me, shared an elevator, gathered in the bar to talk writing. You learn a lot by watching and listening. Heck, I even learned from all the astounded, pitying looks I got when I would say I was writing a Roman historical. That was ok because what they didn't know was that I was taking all their knowledge on telling a good story and dressing it in a toga....the same story that was my 2006 Golden Heart finalist. Thanks!
My current mentor is TL. Destined by fate, I believe to be in the role of teacher, task master, cheerleader and overall therapist. She is my critique partner and friend and she has truly taught me what it means to be a professional author. She listens when I whine. She rejoices when I win (as does her dog Buckarudi. You've never celebrated a contest final until you've jumped up and down with a sixty pound Airedale Terrier. LOL). She believes in me and because of that I believe in myself.
Because of my mentors, I am a more grounded aspiring author. I am more determined. I am dedicated and I am more polished. Their lessons and examples are now mine to gift and I do so gladly.
What mentors have helped you in your writing career?