40 Days of 3 Questions – Day 26

Welcome to 40 Days of 3 Questions!

For the next few weeks, meet here every morning with a notebook or document to answer three questions about writing, about your status quo as a writer, or about the writing life. You can answer briefly and go about your day, or you can use this as a warm up exercise before your regular writing schedule. Whatever works for you, works for me.

Day 26 Questions:

  1. Did you have a writing mentor or guide?
  2. What did you learn from that person?
  3. Do you or have you mentored anyone?

You may post answers in comments or keep your thoughts private–your choice!

And here is today’s pretty picture:

Though she be but little poster
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7 thoughts on “40 Days of 3 Questions – Day 26

  1. I’ve had several as I was learning the craft. The original editors of Level Best Books, who rejected a number of my short stories but were kind enough to tell me I was a good writer and not to give up. Several “First-Twenty-Pages” ms. critiquers at Crime Bake, including Hank, who said, “We’re twenty pages in and NOTHING HAPPENS” – or something to that effect. And an excellent in-person writing group I was in for eight years. Now I get to critique others’ first twenty pages and pay it forward.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve had many guides on my writing journey. The first was the mystery author Barbara Lee who told me I had a true talent. I’d only written for fun and it wasn’t until I took her workshop that I had even the slightest bit of confidence in my writing. She led me to the Writer’s Center in Bethesda which opened a new world for me. Dorothy Cannell was truly an inspiration to me. What I learned from her is if you don’t write what interests you, it won’t interest your reader either. Sue Grafton became my mentor several years ago. I trembled every time her emails arrived. She was fierce but kind. “The most important thing is to sit your ass in the chair and write,” she said on more than one occasion. There’s also a certain editor who has always guided me and has become a good, good friend.
    Each year I go to a high school where my cousin teaches and I give a writing workshop. A few of the students email me there stories occasionally and I hope that I am as helpful to them as my mentors have been to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve had a couple mentors, but two stand out. One is Annette Dashofy, who read my very first book (back when I didn’t even know enough to double-space a manuscript page) and said, “I love your voice, but your story starts on page 40” and has helped me with advice ever since. The second is Hank Phillippi Ryan, who was gracious enough not only to read a story I sent her, but call me in the middle of the day to discuss the highs (characterization) and lows (plot) and give me some of the best early-draft stage advice (“In the beginning, don’t hold yourself back. You can fix it later.”). Oh, and there’s this editor woman I know who’s been pretty helpful. 😉

    I don’t think I’ve mentored anyone yet, but I hope to pay it forward someday.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Awww… Feeling a little misty here. It’s been so gratifying to see your growth as a writer over the years, Mary. And no one (except maybe you) is more excited about seeing your debut novel in print this summer!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. 1. Did you have a writing mentor or guide?
    I had about 500 of them. That was the size of the Guppy chapter when I was struggling to get published. I did manuscript swaps and chapter by chapter critiques with several groups. I also had the Austin Mystery Writers, where we did chapter by chapter critiques.
    2. What did you learn from that person?
    From all of them, I learned how to writer leaner and meaner, with more clarity and less adjectives. I also learned that I have my own style and to ignore critique comments that try to change my style to someone else’s. I learned that when more than one person thinks a passage needs to be changes, it does. Not necessarily in the way suggested, but it does need to be rewritten.
    3. Do you or have you mentored anyone?
    I’ve also done critiques for others, of course. I think I have given guidance to some people. Actually, writers have told me I’ve been helpful to them sometimes when I don’t remember being helpful to them. I did one thing I’m very proud of. After I finished my term as president of the Guppies, I instituted (with the help of Elaine Douts) an exercise called Fantasy Agent. We got volunteers from published writers to mentor unpublished writers. There are usually about 50 on each side participating. The unpubbed author submits a certain number of pages of a WIP. The facilitator(s) strips out anything that identifies the writer, matches each writer to an anonymous “agent,” and the agent (the published writer) gives feedback on a structured form with the final question being whether or not the agent would accept the ms. for publication and why or why not.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. 1.) Did you have a writing mentor or guide? I also have more than 700 Guppies (the Sisters in Crime internet chapter) to count on to guide me in constantly improving my writing and promotion efforts.
    2.) What did you learn from that person? They helped me hone my query and synopsis by not only offering a ‘Necessary Parts’ class by she who is brilliant, but also by encouragement, virtual hugs, and a huge celebration of every small victory.
    3.) Do you or have you mentored anyone? I am always open and frank when someone asks me about publishing and writing. Love it.


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