In the second edition of his book, What a Writer Needs, Ralph Fletcher begins with a chapter on mentors. He writes about many of his writing mentors including college professors, his first grade teacher, and several published novelists. As I reviewed his book in preparation for an upcoming study group, I saw my note in the margin. I had written, “Who are my writing mentors?”
As teachers of writing, we become writing mentors to our students. We are the people in their lives who see their strengths, who encourage them to take risks, and who are passionate about writing. But who does that for us?
One of my writing mentors is Stacey, from right here at the Two Writing Teachers. I admire the way she lives a writerly life, putting her writing projects high on her never-ending ‘To Do’ list. In that way, she is a role model to me. Also, when I read her writing, I often marvel at the precision of her words. Stacey’s writing is concise and focused, another quality I admire in a writer. I frequently turn to her blog posts when I am struggling with organization and focus.
My friend and March SOLSC participant, Crystal, is another writing mentor. She doesn’t write often (ahem, Crystal), but when she does, her writing takes my breath away. Her writing is brimming with emotion and gets right to my heart every time. She takes a seemingly simple topic, turns it on its head, and writes about it with originality and fresh perspective. Her writing voice is unmistakable, and her pieces are some of my most favorite to read.
Dani Shapiro and Craig Wilson are two published authors who have served as writing mentors to me. Although we’ve never met, these writers have had a profound impact on my life as a writer. I recognize their style and voice as my own. I have soaked in their words and, when I write, their influence leaks through my fingers. It is a difficult thing to name, but their writing has a honest, emotional tone that my own writing tries to echo.
And, of course, the Tuesday Slice of Life Story participants here at the Two Writing Teachers serve as writing mentors to me. I have bookmarked and saved countless Slices over the years in the hopes that I can someday imitate their style or voice or craft. Each Tuesday, I read and I wonder, “How did they do that?” I often return to Slices to pore over them with a writer’s eye. Among the Tuesday Slicers, I have found not only friends, but writing mentors as well.
Writing mentors may be from your past or your present. They may be friends or teachers. You might see your writing mentors every day, or perhaps you have never met them at all. All writers need mentors. I am curious, who are yours?
Please leave a comment on this post describing one of your writing mentors.