Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Heart of Mentoring

In What I Wish I Had Known about the Writing Process recently, I said that I didn't think about seeking a mentor when I struggled to begin and shape my first book that was published in the UK in 1996. 

Yet, I had had two mentors, women who encouraged me often, and I later I realized how important their input has remained.

They were sisters, unmarried, at least fifteen years older than I, and they served in the church I attended. The younger sister was the most sincere and faithful greeter that any church could hope to have. Greeting, in a church, is an art and a gift, I think, as a lot of people enter for the first time smiling, yet feeling confused or deeply hurt. 

The other sister led the missions outreach of the church for a long time. She cared deeply that others be able to go wherever God called them, whether to teach in seminaries or Bible schools, to practice medicine, or to help local pastors.   

The sister who greeted at the front door of the church on Sundays was Sadye, and it was her sister Grace who learned of my interest in writing. One Sunday she recommended I read a book by an author named Eugenia Price.

"A copy is in the library," she said, offering to go there with me. It was waiting: St. Simon's Memoir.  I grew so attached to it that I eventually bought my own copy, which I still have.

That book led me to Eugenia Price's St. Simon's trilogy of books based on the Georgia island's history and its connections with the prosperous Gould family of New  York. 

I still wish I could write with the emotional impact of Eugenia Price, who made it look easy in spite of the "stubborn words," as she called them, that fought her when writing a novel. 

I think of all three women--Sadye, Grace, and Eugenia--as among the best mentors I could have had. It was the personal, warm attention in the sisters, and the expressiveness of the St. Simons author, that helped me believe I might be able to finish a book. 

Whether in the flesh or in their words on pages, writing mentors give to us the caring of their hearts. They want to see us succeed. 

I think that is why I value so much now the art that I work to develop, use, and refine daily, the heart that I believe belongs within the art of mentoring. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

If I Had Known More about the Writing Process

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for your book or manuscript, contact Jean.

If I had known more when I began a memoir (published in 1996; "Jane Bullard" pen name), I would have tried to find a mentor. There were a few valued encouraging people in my life, and I could have asked one of them.

Yet doing that didn't enter my mind. I guess I would have needed to have had experience learning about a writer-mentor relationship to know what it could mean. So, I began trying to organize my true story, and I even went away from home for up to a week of intensive writing, although I had no idea how to handle "intensive writing."

During the writing adventure, I learned about a big change coming to my life. My husband and I would move to Geneva, Switzerland. It became a watershed time in our lives for 10 years. I loved living five minutes from my husband's office. I loved the Geneva city environment. There were no more commutes to work and separate lives, which we had for many years near Washington, DC.

That move did involve separation, however, from our two grown daughters, a son-in-law, and our first grandchild and then the second. I coped by praying a lot, visiting a local cafe every morning, and looking for ways to know other people far from home. Geneva, a center of international humanitarian affairs, had lots of country embassies, or missions, and I began to realize the similar feelings of their ambassadors and staff far from their homes, and many were much farther away than mine in the U.S.  

I had lots of time alone, and I learned to appreciate what that can mean to a writer. There was no Internet yet except e-mail for businesses and large organizations, and we knew of no cell phones that worked well internationally. In being cut off from everything familiar most of the time, I began to be a bit more expressive, emotionally, I think, in what I wrote. 

Time, being alone more than usual, and not giving up helps build writing strength, although we may not see it right away. Whether the alone time is five minutes a day or a week, or five hours, we writers need to learn to be content being alone, at least for periods of time.

Whatever you do with writing, I hope you will learn not to become obsessed with it. Once it grabs you, it tries to take over your life, especially if you're writing a book. The book will come, in my view, and be better if it evolves from as balanced and open a life as possible. 

I wish for you the time, privacy, and balance that your writing needs at this time. If you want to read more of my thoughts on writing, you can visit Author Support.  I hope you will leave a comment or two.

Expert Writing Help - Jean P. Purcell

Since 1996, when my book Not All Roads Lead Home was published in England and I officially became an author, the satisfaction and joy I receive by writing has grown.
I value the writing mentors in my life, and every time I have coached a writer or helped a high school student with essay writing, I have wanted to be like mentors that I have enjoyed in my career. Each one had my best interests in mind yet none held back on offering helpful advice.

My services continue beyond mentoring, giving detailed book analysis and editing to beginning and advanced writers. 

If you are interested, e-mail me

Tips for Writers by Jean P. Purcell

Author Expert is a NEW blog for writers by an author and publisher. I hope the blog will grow over time. Meanwhile, visit the Author Support blog for ideas or inspiration.

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Interested in editing or book analysis services? Email me.