Transition Girl

Why transition girl?... Best answered by a quote from the Iliad....."The soul was not made to dwell in a thing; and when forced to it, there is no part of that soul but suffers violence."

Thursday, August 22, 2013

mentoree virtues

It has been a while since my last confession.

This always was my favourite line at the start of that catholic ritual inside a warm velvet and stained timber box with a priest (along with his identity) secure behind a separating partition. Truth is I actually barely attended church given my father was an atheist. For the single year though he allowed my Catholic mother to send me and my brothers to Sunday school and receive communion at least once before the expiry of his one and only concession to my mother's religious beliefs. So it has been a VERY LONG time since my last 'real' confession.

I have of course confessed many a sin many times since the pre-tween church confessions including at length in my last blog. It would be fair to wonder if writing is a form of confession for a writer no matter what genre they choose. There is as much a separating chasm between me now in my quiet workspace and any reader of my work in a different time and space. I do not write to confess, I write to tell a story. There is no guilt in my sin, only the pleasure and relief of my creative process.

But this is not what I want to confess today.

I admit that I don't like talking with other fiction writers. I much prefer the company of editors when I want to bounce around ideas for improving the quality of my work. I confess this dislike stems from one bad experience in my younger days when another writer stole my idea for a story and sold it as their own. It has made me guarded ever since then when I do speak with another writer. I know it is not particularly rational - I am never short of ideas for stories and what harm is there in sharing them? Part of the answer lies in the most significant character flaw of every writer...All writers (myself included) also have a bad habit of wanting to tell your story in a completely different way - generally peppering the content with alternative themes over which they are more interested. (Editors in contrast take your theme as a given and then suggest ways to improve how you tell your story.) If I want to talk with you about my work, don't tell me what to write, guide me on how to write. This means I avoid writers' festivals as if they were the plague.

That said, I do see some value in one-on-one mentoring. I have been fighting against my anti-writer instinct noted above lately by catching up once a month with another small group of writers. The mentor leading this group is a full time professional writer and, notwithstanding some square black-rimmed glasses hipster leanings, is of sufficient age to offer pearls of wisdom and experience related insights for me to consider.

The sharing of experiences is the best part of a mentor-mentoree relationship. This alone has made the monthly lessons worth the effort. I have liked the impromptu writing exercises that we do to practice technique - spending 10 minutes writing about some random subject to work on perspective and the like. It is quite amazing how these efforts peak my enthusiasm for the writing process. Even a simple task of describing my surroundings reminds me to look around and really make the effort to observe what my senses are telling me about my environment.

Two classes down, three to go.

I still haven't shared any of my ideas with the other writers.