By Marilyn Turk
For the past year, I’ve wanted a writing mentor, someone who would advise me and help me on my writing journey. Ernest Hemingway is quoted as saying, “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” Even though I know more about writing and am somewhat better at it than I used to be, I know I still have quite a way to go to reach a level comparable to my favorite authors, if that is at all possible.
Although I’m blessed to have critique partners, they are busy with their lives and are at about the same stage in their writing as I am. I thought perhaps a more experienced author would take me on as their mentee to help me reach the next level. I even asked a couple of authors who I believe would be good mentors for me if they would be interested. But none of them took me up on it; they’re all so busy with their own work. Thankfully, I know a lot of authors at various levels whom I can go to for any questions I have.
But an odd thing has happened to me recently. New writers have come to me for advice. These people know I’ve achieved some level of success that they are trying to attain. As a result, I’ve been asked to critique and advise them on their work.
With years of experience under my belt, I can tell those with less experience what to expect in this writing journey. I wish someone had shared that information with me years ago. Many times in the past I felt like I was a stranger in a strange land, an outcast, one that didn’t have the key to getting on the inside where all the published authors were.
A mentor is defined as “an experienced and trusted adviser.” Like other experiences in life, God didn’t allow me to learn so I could keep it to myself. He expects me to share what I know and help new writers, to reach back and pull others along. In fact, in Hebrews 13:16, it says “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. (ESV) How surprising to realize the last ten years I’ve spent learning the craft and writing a variety of work, from articles to short stories to devotions to novels and novellas have given me something to share so I can mentor someone else.
It is a blessing to be able to give from my own knowledge and experience. And although I consider myself a middle-schooler when it comes to gaining an education about writing, there are those who find my advice valuable.
So perhaps at this time of my life, God wants me to be the mentor and not the mentee.