I've never had a mentor. At least, not in the wise-bearded-person Dumbledore sense. (I'm still holding out for a pet phoenix though.) The first time I had something published - a funny article in my university magazine - I simply threw it up there and hoped for the best. A little later, working on a travel magazine, I once again learned by doing, writing articles on everything from spa hotels in Arizona to bonfire nights in England and many other topics I had no clue about. It was scary at times, but I just winged it furiously. When I wrote my first novel, again, I simply sat down at my computer and bashed it out.
But that's where my lone wolfdom ended. Due to the wonders of the interwebs, I found critique partners, writer friends, and cheerleaders online, and all those people taught me so much about both writing and publishing, and made the journey far less daunting. Having gone it alone for so long, I really can't overstate how brilliant it is to have someone support and advise you along the oft-potholed writing and publishing road.
Lucking into the super-friendly kidlit writing community meant amazing things happened: A bestselling author offered to read my first novel and show it to her agent - all because she liked the first page I'd entered in a competition. Nothing came of it, but I will be forever indebted to her for boosting my confidence. I won critiques from various writers for both my queries and pages, helping me improve as a writer in leaps and bounds. And of course, I found my brilliant critique partners, without whom my book would be a mess of plotholes and lurking adverbs. Even after I had interest from a publisher, numerous published authors were kind enough to share their thoughts on contracts, agents, publishers, and all manner of behind-the-scenes tidbits that you simply can't find on the internet.
All of which is to say: Mentors are brilliant things. I may have not had an official one, but all the kind advice I received helped me immeasurably. And now I'm extremely happy to be returning the favour. So if you're a fledgling writer wondering what to do next, I hope you'll give The WoMentoring Project a try. It just might be the boost you're looking for.
What is The WoMentoring Project?
The WoMentoring Project offers free mentoring by authors, agents and editors to up-and-coming female writers who would otherwise find it difficult to access similar opportunities. We have no budget, it’s a completely free initiative and every aspect of the project - from the project management to the website design to the PR support - is being volunteered by a collective of female literary professionals.
I want a mentor! How do I apply?
In an ideal world we would offer a mentor to every writer who needed and wanted one. Of course this isn't possible so instead we've tried to ensure the application process is accessible while also ensuring that our mentors have enough information with which to make their selection.
Applicant mentees will submit a 1000-word writing sample and a 500-word statement about how they would benefit from free mentoring. All applications will be for a specific mentor and mentees can only apply for one mentor at a time. Selections will be at the mentor's discretion.
All illustrations done exclusively for The WoMentoring Project by the super-talented Sally Jane Thompson, one of the mentors!