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Andrew Antoff from Musings and Mullings

 Andrew, better known as Amber in Glass, is a new blogger, with great potential. Check out his blog.

Rebecca was kind enough to let me, a new blogger myself, do a guest blog on her page.

While on the subject of guest blogging she posed to me the following questions: As a new writer what kinds of goals would you share with someone who was an established writer? Would you want a mentor in this business? Do you think mentoring is a good thing for new writers?

For a minute, I really had to stop and think about these questions. All three are very reasonable, and none of which were something I would have readily thought about.

So I stopped and made myself think about them. As writers we all have goals. It’s been said before, but at the head of all our goals, whether we admit it to ourselves or not, is our goal of publication. Sure, first and foremost we are writing for ourselves, but at the end of the long road of
writing we all really want our work to be shared and received by others. A few kind words from strangers and friends help get us through some of the obstacles we hit in our struggle to complete any given project. I know, I can’t even count the number of times my friends’ kind words have pulled me through enough to complete another chapter. Some days it’s easier to sit around self-deprecating everything I have accomplished; just having one person say to me “hey, I really like what you are doing, I want to see it finished” might just be the push I need to keep going. So what does any of this have to do with goals and mentoring? Well, I am not entirely sure yet, but let’s let this train run it’s course shall we, I think I did have a point here. I mentioned that we are all, above all else, writing for ourselves… We are aren’t we?

I sure hope so, because if not what else would we be writing for? Fame? Money?

Sure those things are perks, and we hope to reach them. Money and fame may even be secondary goals, but in the end are we really writing for them? I cannot answer for anyone else, but as for myself, I write because I love it. There is an indescribable feeling of accomplishment for me when I put characters and ideas onto a page and watch them come to life, and honestly, there is nothing else I would rather do in this world. If we aren’t writing for ourselves are we really writing at all?

There are plenty of established authors out there that have made huge amounts of money with their works. Some of those stories are even good. Let’s face it; we’ve all seen it. There is also a whole plethora of bland and tasteless crap out there as well that just keeps right on selling like the energizer bunny, except more lifeless. So I’m sure if all you really want is to be famous and make money, then don’t let my words deter you–I have no doubt you can accomplish your goal. I am, however, basing this blog on the assumption that we all want to write quality pieces.

Which brings me back to my earlier point of writing for ourselves. It is what makes our voices unique. It is why we can have a limitless number of stories about elves and orcs, women and men, murders and mysteries, even with predictable plots, and yet individual stories all with the same premise read like fresh new tales. It is the authors’ own unique voice and perspective that breathes life into rehashed ideas. Which is why, mentoring for me, will always be a shade of gray. Now, before I get too much into it let me point out that there are many different types of mentors, or perhaps more accurately many different levels at which one could be a mentor. As Rebecca has been discussing in her current series, a mentor can be anyone that provides guidance and support to someone else in their writing career. However, when I sat down to write this blog, I was thinking of mentoring specifically as someone trying to teach the writing craft to another person.With that in mind, how much could we learn by sitting next to our favorite author and having him tell us, “this is how to write. This is what you need to do. Here is how you build a world. This is a setting.”? The writing process is different for everyone. It is, despite all else, a work of art. Writing is art. What works for one artist is not always going to work for another. So how much mentoring is too much?

I am not even beginning to say that having a mentor would not be useful. In fact, it would be a pretty invaluable tool to see someone else’s ideas and processes; to gain a fresh perspective. What I am saying is, you must be careful how seriously you take it. If in the end you are not writing for yourself, but writing because you want to be the next Stephen King, J.K Rowling, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, or what have you then you run the risk of stepping into the realm of losing yourself and your voice and beginning a bland page of mimicry.

Mentors are good sources of inspiration, encouragement, and perspective. They can show you processes, ideas and ways of doing things that you may never have thought of before, and should definitely be used as sources of information. In the end, however, keep in mind this one simple adage: Stay true to yourself. Never hesitate to look at other sources for new take on things or different methods, you might find something really useful out there, but do not try to emulate something that does not feel like you. Write from the heart, and you’ll find you have an unique voice that is all your own.

Thanks Andrew, it looks awesome.

5 Comments

  • Cindy

    That was a wonderful post. I like the encouragement to stay true to yourself. This is the only way we get to see originality and unique approaches to old stories. I also believe mentoring is a wonderful idea.

    When I first thought about mentoring, I also thought it was about someone more accomplished trying to teach someone else their craft. That's not always the case, however. I am with a critique group with others who are wonderful writers, an excellent support group and soundboards for issues. I'd say we all mentor each other in a sense and we can all learn something from each other.

    Thanks for the post!

  • Johanna

    I think the best mentors are those that know how to inspire without telling you what to do. If we are writers then we know how/what we want to say, we just sometimes need someone in the know to tell us if it is in fact working or if we have taken a nose dive. It is up to us to pick back up and try again.

    Great post!

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