“Can you tell me what a mentor is?”
The question came during a panel session at the conclusion of the Cedar Falls Christian Writer’s Workshop yesterday.
I’m blessed to have two writing mentors in my life, so this is how I answered that question:
A mentor is someone farther along in your chosen career path, someone you admire and look up to, whom you can learn from. Author Shelly Beach has been that for me ever since June 2011, when I attended my first writer’s conference and watched this dynamic speaker up on the stage. Her roster of speaking experience impressed me almost as much as her variety of books and writing credits.
A mentor is someone you can ask for advice in the business you have in common. Because, for those who aren’t yet aware of this; while writing is a craft, publishing is a business. Cecil Murphey is another mentor. I met him when he spoke at the 2012 Maranatha conference.
Both Shelly and Cec have become good friends, but I’m careful not to take advantage of that friendship. I’m well aware how busy they are, so I don’t bombard them with questions. I can garner a lot of information from their blog posts or books. When I wondered about ghostwriting arrangements, I read Cec’s Ghostwriting: The Murphey Method. If I’d needed further guidance, I could have e-mailed him, but the book answered all my questions, and then some.
A mentor might not be aware they serve as your mentor. It could be someone you watch from afar, learning from their work. I consider C. Hope Clark a mentor of sorts, ever since I read her The Shy Writer. (since updated as The Shy Writer Reborn) As a fellow introvert, I wasn’t sure how I would face book-signings or public speaking, but thanks to her book and a great deal of hands-on experience, I’m now comfortable with both. Not only have I discovered a few markets for my writing from her FundsforWriters newsletter, Hope’s column and the short articles in it taught me a lot about the writing world. You can find some of them reprinted in the Best of FundsforWriters Vol. I. I might not have considered her a mentor, except she actually replied to my e-mail with good advice when I asked about promotion and marketing shortly before my Coupon Crazy was released in 2013. Now, I follow her closely on Facebook, and I respect her opinion on issues related to writing and publishing.
We all need mentors; successful people to emulate, learn from, and aspire to be like. As for the ultimate dream coming true; working with our mentor in some capacity, well…
Sometimes, that dream comes true. It did for me last year~