Please welcome, Raylee Williams, a lovely writing mentee and friend who has agreed to talk a little bit about the mentor/mentee process.
KD: Tell us a little bit about where you are in your writing career and what led you to seek a writing mentor.
RW: I’m working on a m/m romance series. Right now I’m editing the first ms and drafting the second. As for what led me to seek a mentor, I’d say it sort of happened spontaneously. When I made my decision to pursue publication in July of 2010, I began studying craft. So I enrolled in many workshops. I think I was taking one a month. During this time, I was processing tons of information. I was unsure what to keep and what to file under G. I’d even say I began to doubt myself and the story.
I knew Kat through a few past workshops. She was my favourite teacher and a person whose opinion I trusted and respected. When someone began attempting to steer my ms in a different direction, I emailed her for advice. Kat helped me figure out what needed fine-tuning. She never told me what needed fine-tuning. She gave me the tools to figure it out myself. After that I kept emailing her LOL. That’s how my mentorship started.
KD: Did you/do you worry that having a mentor will push you in a direction decided upon by the mentor rather than a direction you'd prefer?
RW: Not with Kat. As I mentioned in the question above, she provides me with guidance. If I’m way off base in my ms, she’ll ask questions. The more questions I answer, the more I find my own answers.
Now being pushed in the mentor’s direction can happen, though. So finding the right mentor is important. What worked for me is I trusted Kat from my first workshop. I was shaking in my boots, wondering if she’d tell me to get out of her grammar workshop and come back when I grew a brain. But she was patient, understanding, and helpful. I knew right then she was the perfect teacher because she wants her students to succeed.
KD: What qualities appealed to you most about having a mentor in general, or Kat specifically?
RW: I’d say it’s more of a connection I share with someone. Kat listens. She doesn’t lead you through the forest. She provides you with the skills and tools so you can guide yourself through the forest. But if you get lost or fall in a swamp, all you have to do is holler her name and she appears, again, offering skills and guidance.
KD: Is being a mentee demanding? Do you feel pressured to live up to what your mentor is asking you to do?
RW: No pressure at all. As a matter of fact, I can’t think of a time when Kat told me to do something LOL. Seriously. She’s never handed me a book and said, “read this first before we get started.” Or, “figure this out and that out and then get back to me.” She lets you set your own pace.
KD: Tell us two specific ways having a mentor has helped your writing.
RW: Just two? Hah. I could list tons. I’d say she helped me develop conflict that will carry a story. I don’t write plot-laden stories, such as saving the galaxy, saving a child, saving a farm, or even saving a cat. My characters’ conflicts drive my stories forward. Every story I’ve written, and I’ve written hundreds, are always about characters saving themselves. I don’t know if that makes any sense. Maybe this comes from years of counselling others? I focus on people overcoming their personal blocks/barriers to achieve happiness/love. Unfortunately, hardly NY Times best-selling material LOL.
Themes/GMC. Again, I was lost here. I kept hearing GMC. What is the theme? Kat helped me here big time. As a matter of fact, just last week I emailed Kat my GMC for my MCs in the third story to review.
KD: Do you feel that your mentor gets as much out of the mentor/mentee relationship as you do? Why or why not?
RW: Yes, Kat does. She told me so. LOL. I sort of compare mentoring to critting, beta-reading, or judging writing contests—I learn a lot when I review another’s work. I probably get more out of critting/reviewing than the person being critted or reviewed.
KD: Do you anticipate moving on from your menteeship or do you hope to continue the mentor/mentee relationship long term?
RW: I hope it continues long-term. To this day, I still send stuff Kat’s way for her opinion. She also lends a great ear. Right now I’m going through writer’s insecurity. A very bad case of writer’s insecurity. I tend to doubt myself a lot.
With Kat, I beta-read one of her novels. When she asked me I was sort of nervous hehe. I was thinking, “She wants my opinion?” Gulp. What am I going to tell Obi-Wan Kenobi? But after I got over my nervousness, I was flattered she trusted my opinion. BTW, it’s an awesome read. And yes, I learned lots reading that novel, too.
KD: Overall would you say having a mentor is a benefit to you as a writer?
RW: Big time. I told my husband the other night that if my first book sees publication, every reader will see the following before they start the first chapter: Thank you, Kat. I couldn’t have done this without your help.
KD: Well, there you go, folks. Aside from the fact that this whole blog makes me blush, it's a good indication that mentoring can be beneficial to budding authors. It's one more way for writers to connect with writers. It's a great way to network and to make new writing friends while learning the ropes of the writing world. Whether you're a potential mentor or potential mentee, this author's experiences say: give it a try!
While we're on the topic, I've got some mentoring options open through Savvy Authors, click here to find out more. I also take on private mentoring projects. So don't hesitate to shoot me an email at kat at katduncan dot net and let me know what you think you need help with. If you're not ready for mentoring, try out one of my workshops. I have a reputation for personalized, gentle, well-explained and genuinely helpful feedback. Click here for a list of my upcoming workshops.
See you in print! -Kat