Every Year I Choose Two Writing Mentors
In 2013, I adopted Kate Morton and Michael Ondaatjie as my writing mentors ; you gotta have a boy and a girl. I read I chose them quickly and without much information on either and then set myself the task of getting acquainted with their work. I decided that they were going to be my writing mentors for the year.
I had never read any of Kate Morton’s work before. I had only just heard that she existed as an author from seeing her in my local book store. I asked for her books for Christmas from my friends and received ‘The Secret Keeper’ as a wonderful surprise. But this wasn’t just about her books she had published, I learnt all that I could about Kate Morton. I read interviews with her and watched a couple of Youtube clips she has released. I started to follow her blog and see if she was on Facebook. (Gosh, this is sounding really stalky)
I tried to educate myself about Kate Morton as a person and author. I wanted to know if she studied creative writing and when she published her first work. While learning about Kate Morton I felt like I was learning about writing and learning about the writing industry.
I had read In the skin of a lion during Four Unit English in high school and am still grateful to my amazing teacher for helping that little class of 6 young girls become women through studying and discussing the most interesting of literary texts she had to work with in the syllabus. Reading Michael Ondaatjie again after ten years was a sort of rediscovery. I had read his work so long ago.
Ten years later, as a writer myself, I also found Michael Ondaatjie on Facebook. I looked at his website and read his wiki page. Now, I was interested in much more. I wanted to know who he was published with and when he started writing full time. I took him on as a personal mentor without his consent.
In 2013, when I did not know where to turn next, I looked to my un official writing mentors and found inspiration hope, ideas and knowledge. It is 2014 and it is time to choose two more Writing Mentors.
Why do you need a writing mentor?
Read Outside Your Genre – Choosing Writing Mentors is a great way to start reading outside your chosen genre. Every writer will always tell you to read as much as possible, but I often don’t know where to start. Writing Mentors are a good way to make sure that you don’t get stuck reading the same old styles and stories that you have been reading for the last 10 years.
Make Contact with the Community – Once you have chosen your Mentors (if they are still alive) see if you can find them on Facebook, Twitter or anywhere online. Subscribe to their fan page and follow their publishers and you will be surprised to learn how active they are in the writing community. Their facebook pages are blipping with updates and comments and events and tours and talks and signings and helpful advice and posts.
Career Role Model – While it is very important to read your Mentors work and really engage with their writing, it is also helpful to look at their career. Your Writing Mentor will probably become your Writing Career Mentor (As they are now notable enough for you to have heard of them, there is probably a lot you can learn) As writers, we don’t get to see writers in action – But now Writer’s offices are online and you can take a look at what they are up to.
Isolation – You are not as isolated as you think you are.
Informs your connection to the writing world – Having a writing mentor, whoever you choose, is a good way to learn about publishing, publishing houses, awards, talks and festivals; in fact – everything that is going on in the writing world. You must stay connected to as many elements as possible.
My Mentors for 2014 –
This year I chose two Australian authors to be my mentors.
Hannah Kent & Tim Winton.
I have chosen to follow and investigate Australian writers because I was sick of people telling me that the Australian Book industry was crashing and burning. I have also chosen Australian Writing Mentors because I would like to keep Australian publishers and bookshops open long enough to one day stock my work too.
Here goes, I better get to the book store.
UPDATE – 31st May 2014.
Today I had the most wonderful opportunity to meet one of my 2014 Writing Mentors. At the Emerging Writers Festival in Melbourne I met Hannah Kent. What a fantastic experience and what a lovely person. I am so happy I chose her for 2014.