While I think it is FANTABULOUS for all of us to find what motivates us, I happen to think on that note, there is a bit of preaching to the choir here in the blogosphere. Anybody who is reading and networking about WRITING is at least to SOME degree, motivated. And those of us motivated, can find the help we need... can ask the questions that are nagging at us... but what about new writers?
The Tart's Tale
I wrote once upon a time.
In my youth I wrote a lot. Mostly I journaled. I wrote angsty poetry. I wrote a lot of letters. But I knew I loved it. I wrote book plots... I dreamed of one day being a writer... And I had no clue. This was before the internet (I know... aren't I old? *snort*) But how might my path have been different if I'd had someone to encourage... not the JOURNALISM my mother wanted me to pursue (I am still afraid to talk to people and don't much like fact finding), but my writing of FICTION.
I took a short story class in college. I didn't KNOW at the time how different short stories were from a novel. I STILL can't write a short story. There was ALSO an assumption in that class that we had some clue (something I didn't) of the elements of a story. I think I was probably a bit of a joke because I just didn't know what I was doing.
I didn't try my first serious attempt at a novel until I was 27. I wrote half a horror novel, but didn't know the importance of knowing the ENDING to finishing the darned thing. I was also between years of graduate school and just ran out of TIME. I had to dive back into my courses... (but if I'd had encouragement of the 'only takes a page a day' sort...)
It took Harry Potter to teach me that. You heard me... JK Rowling was my mentor. The world of fan fiction finally taught me how to FINISH a story. But more importantly, the support system found me some people to be accountable to.
Just because I didn't have a good mentor, doesn't mean I can't BE a good mentor. In fact I would argue writers are the only ones really interested in developing other writers. Unlike other fields where only so many people can make it, so we need to stay on top, each writer has a distinct voice and a distinct set of stories. Helping someone develop their story will NEVER hurt me. In fact critiquing others makes me BETTER.
And encouraging young writers is just plain good karma. We all know it takes a while (a very long while, honestly) to really get it down, but why not just encourage people to work through that part? How many people have given up because they didn't quite have it when they were young, and nobody ever told them that doesn't mean they will NEVER have it?
Encourage young people. Find people earlier in their careers and give them a hand. Be as free as you can afford to be with your time, and generous with your encouragement. So go forth! Mentor!
Writing Retreat Permission