Mentoring – A Personal View

January 21, 2013

I wanted to write a novel, who doesn’t?  I have been writing for some years now, mostly news articles and short stories. I have also written several outline sketches for book ideas and I had started work on three of these. I had even pestered some unfortunates into reading the first twenty thousand words of one of them that I was particularly enamoured with. But as I got further entrenched I started to worry, was I any good at this or was I just fooling myself? After all most of us like to sing in the shower and we think we sound pretty good too, until someone bangs on the door and demands that we put that poor animal out of its misery. If I wanted to take myself seriously shouldn’t I find out how it was done? By pure chance I met Rosemary Dun who is a writer and poet and runs some creative writing courses at Folk House in Bristol. She gave me one of her leaflets, I looked up her web site and went and stared at the events board at Folk House. I really wanted to do one of her novel writing courses, but I knew that balancing work and family commitments made it impossible for me to do the hours on offer. I went back to stare miserably at her website. Then I noticed she also offered mentoring. It would cost me more than joining a group class, but we could work out a time between us that could work for me. Also one to one is so much more intensive, after all, there’s no where to hide!

Now its six months down the line and I’m a whole new writer! I have been tweaked, teased and poked into understanding how it is done, this business of writing a novel. I have a big shiny new tool box too, some of it mental and some of it in the form of essential literature. Amazon has dined well on my spend list, painful but necessary. Word of warning though, leave your artistic ego at the door. If you are too precious about what your have written, and believe me you will write loads that gets gleefully slashed and tumbled into the recycle bin, then you wont have room to learn and move on. I would say that for me mentoring has been an invaluable and indispensable journey. Knowing how it’s done won’t guarantee my books getting published, but I do now feel confident that I can write a novel – planning, plotting, characterisation, beginning, middle and end. I can write a synopsis too and express the content of my book in one short concise sentence, very useful at social interactions without people getting that unhappy dazed expression and looking over your shoulder for the nearest exit.

Choosing a mentor is a personal thing and I just got lucky in bumping into Rosemary. Shop around the websites in your area for someone you feel you can work with. See if you can sign up to bite size chunks of maybe, three monthly job lots in case it doesn’t work for you and you want to pull out. Check their credentials; do they teach, are they publishing their own work, what qualifications do they have? As a starting point check out Rosemary’s website at and see what type of thing you should be looking for. She offers courses and mentoring services and you can follow her on Twitter too!