The Mentor/Mentee Benefit

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by true2source

Vaughn Roycroft, stalwart leader of the WU Facebook group’s “Mod Squad” and longtime community member, takes the wheel today to talk about the importance of mentorship. Please check out Vaughn’s bio at the end of the post. Enjoy!

This post started out as a review of a craft book. A few weeks ago I was enthusing on the WU Facebook group page about the book in question, Rock Your Plot, by Cathy Yardley, and Therese was kind enough to offer me this slot to share it with all of you.

Thinking about how this book helped me gave me pause to reflect on my relationship with its author. Cathy is my mentor, you see, and I thought sharing a bit about our mentor/mentee journey would not only be of value to other writers, but would help to illuminate what I find special about the book.

Opposites Attract: Cathy and I met on the WU Facebook page shortly after its inception in January of ’11, but I’d taken note of her before. I’d been finding her comments on this blog and on the Facebook page insightful, wise, and kindhearted. In the first of many auspicious connections to come, I received both a friend request and a message from her on Facebook as I was typing a message to her. The message I was typing and hers were nearly identical, something like, “I appreciate your insight.”

On the surface, we couldn’t have been more different—a newbie writing epic fantasy and a seasoned pro writing romance and chick lit; a Midwesterner and a West Coast gal; an ex-businessman and a self-described Berkley hippy-chick. Of course those things are superficial, but none of it helps to explain what drew me to her. I started following her blog on Rock Your Writing, and quickly decided her philosophies on writing and promotion felt right, and that her advice was worth listening to.

Another chance has been engaged, To throw Thoreau and rearrange. ~Michael Stipe (R.E.M.)

Yes, Rock My Writing, Please: At the time Cathy and I were getting to know one another, I had finished a second rewrite of my epic fantasy trilogy and had gone through a second batch of rejections on book one of that trilogy. I’d already started a fourth manuscript, but I’d also decided the trilogy was worthy of an effort to salvage it. The problem was I didn’t exactly know how to go about it. I knew I needed help. I spoke to my wife about hiring someone, and mentioned Cathy. She went to the ‘Services’ page on Cathy’s website and read aloud, starting with this: “Maybe you’re too close to your project. Maybe you’ve been working on it so long, you can recite passages from memory, and yet you still think ‘it’s all crap!'” And ending with this: “If you’ve finished your novel and suddenly feel paralyzed when faced with revising it, you might want to consider a full manuscript critique.” My wife kept glancing at me as she read, and said, “You were nodding the whole time. I think we’ve found an editor.”

Criticism and dissent are the indispensable antidote to major delusions. ~Alan Barth

The Sting of Truth: I’d had beta readers, but none of them were even writers let alone an industry pro. When I got my book one manuscript back, I feared the worst. But I was pleasantly surprised to find the first note in the critique was complimentary. As you might guess, there was plenty of hard stuff to hear, but every bit of it rang true to me. I knew in my gut she was right each and every time. And Cathy had a way of taking the sting out of the negative with a balm of positive notations and encouraging suggestions.

I tackled my rewrite with renewed enthusiasm and unprecedented direction. When I finished I knew the revised work was much improved. I was so happy with the progress, I hired Cathy to help me with my submissions package and to continue working on the trilogy. I submitted book one again last May, and this time received several requests for partials and some helpful feedback from a few of the rejecting agents.

Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, a push in the right direction. ~John C. Crosby

Seeking the Next Level:  In large part due to Cathy’s teachings, I knew the manuscript still hadn’t reached its full potential. There’s another way she and I are like opposites. I wrote the trilogy as a dyed-in-the-wool pantser and Cathy is a plotter extraordinaire. Much of the revisionary process we’d undergone together was in pursuit of identifying the elements of story structure within my complex work and honing them. The work had come far, but I knew it wasn’t quite there yet. It was a sinking feeling.

The best teacher is not one who knows the most but one who is capable of reducing knowledge to that simple compound of obvious and wonderful. ~ H.L. Mencken

PhotobucketThe Book That Rocked My Plot: This was the very moment Cathy’s book made an appearance. The greatest review I can think to give is to tell you how well it worked for me. Rock Your Plot is clear and concise. It walks you through a specific process, from testing your premise, through your characters’ goals (both interior and exterior), motivations and conflicts, and carries on through each plot point. Apt examples and explanations are provided at every step.

I’d heard much of the information before, but Cathy’s presentation is so methodical, her examples so relatable, it was like hearing it all for the first time, like having a pro walk you through, simplifying what had seemed an overwhelming task. She’s made a downloadable companion workbook available, but I prefer to go old-school pencil and notebook. I sat with Cathy’s book and my notebook, I scrawled copiously, got up and paced and scrawled some more. After reading the book, I had more revelations regarding my book one characters and plot than in the three years since I finished the first draft. Seriously, it’s the best three bucks I ever spent (less than the cup of coffee some of you are drinking at this moment).

Mentor Mélange: Of course there are many types of mentors and levels of mentorship. I consider WU a veritable hotbed of mentorship. I consider Therese and Kathleen mentors, as well as Donald Maass, Jane Friedman, and Barbara O’Neil among many others. I even consider admired authors and bloggers like Steven Pressfield and Jacqueline Carey to be mentors, even if they’re unaware I’m a mentee. Many of my writerly friends have stepped into the role as well. But the relationship Cathy and I have is something beyond any of those.

Going Pro: Some of you might consider it odd to name a hired critique editor a mentor, but for me the payment is a vital component. It makes it reciprocal, defines the relationship as a professional one. It not only shows that I respect her time and expertise, but it ensures a depth of comprehension and empathy for both of us. When we communicate, we are both focused. Through three manuscript critiques, two hour-long phone conferences, and numerous exchanged emails, Cathy has gained an intimate knowledge of my characters and my world, and a firm grasp on my work’s issues and themes. That knowledge and grasp is a priceless commodity.

No one learns as much about a subject as one who is forced to teach it. ~Peter Drucker

Reciprocity Plus: I know from my years in business, a mentor gains much more than just a paycheck. I learned early on that it was best to know each of our employees’ jobs and every piece of equipment they operated, as well as every use and installation technique for the products we sold. The problem solving that occurs in the mentoring process, as well as mastering the ability to communicate the means to overcoming and avoiding problems, provides a mentor with a unique level of expertise.

Through the course of our journey together, Cathy and I have gained something special. We are teacher and student. We are friends. We are one another’s advocate. We are better for our association. We’ve gained the mentor/mentee benefit.

Who are your mentors? Have you experienced the mentor/mentee benefit? 

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About Vaughn Roycroft

In the sixth grade, Vaughn’s teacher gave him a copy of The Hobbit, sparking a lifelong passion for reading and history. After college, life intervened, and Vaughn spent twenty years building a successful business. During those years, he and his wife built a getaway cottage near their favorite shoreline, in a fashion that would make the elves of Rivendell proud. After many milestone achievements, and with the mantra ‘life’s too short,’ they left their hectic lives in the business world, moved to their little cottage, and Vaughn finally returned to writing. Now he spends his days polishing his epic fantasy trilogy.

Comments

  1. says

    Fantastic post Vaughn. I had the good fortune of hiring Cathy for a partial edit based on your recommendation and was thrilled with her timeliness and insight. I’m going to have to get that book!

    I can’t say I have a mentor exactly, but have found many supportive and amazing writers along the way. It’s always important to find someone you can talk to; who will empathize but also challenge you to be better. Thanks for sharing your experience!

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  2. says

    Thanks, Nicole. I’ve met so many amazing writers along the way as well, mostly through WU. It’s such a vital component of this crazy journey. Community is a bit part of how I’ve kept my sanity. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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  3. Carmel says

    You’ve sold me on Rock Your Plot. Will be getting it today. My *mentors* tend to be the authors of books like this. All the best to you on your trilogy.

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  4. says

    ” . . . a self-described Berkley hippy-chick”– ah, hahaha! Love that.

    Writing is such a solitary endeavor in so many ways. It’s easy to get lost in our own heads; we expose much of ourselves into the work. We are like wriggling puppies–full of potential, full of self-aspiration. We cuddle up to anyone offering a pat and a kind word, and though we know the world is not safe we are *always* stunned when cruelty finds us.

    The road is easier when you’re part of a pack. Our Tribe at WU supports, teaches, and shares the good and the bad. At the foundation of it all is the love for words and books, and our common desire to be read. Within that community, mentoring is fostered and shared on many levels–and even a puppy quickly learns which alphas to follow. But unlike a pack, we have no ranking. Our Alphas are all superstars and each of us, no matter who we are, is given the room, respect, and guidance to grow.

    It is a gift without price.

    Cathy is, IMHO, one of the alphas–though I doubt she would see herself that way. She is a prolifically published author with a deep love for the craft, and an even deeper love for sharing her knowledge and experience. It’s that love that drives her tirelessly in the pursuit of helping others. She is my mentor, as well. Her gift for cutting through the most tangled of drafts and providing clear direction hones my ability and teaches me independence. And she does it without breaking my puppy spirit. She teaches me to believe in myself, and that, above all, the is the tallest hurdle for this puppy’s short legs to leap.

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    • says

      Apt metaphor, D. I love it! As usual, you beautifully articulated my feelings about our WU tribe. And you’re spot on about Cathy’s ability to cut through the tangle of even a complex work. She knows all the right questions to ask, and how to ask them. And you’re right, it does make me feel more independant, not less. Another great observation by my very astute friend across the lake. Thanks so much, D, for all you do!

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      • says

        That kind of encouragement and support is exactly what I meant. *You* are one of the superstars, Vaughn, and I will always be very grateful for the many things you have taught me. :)

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  5. says

    This post resonated with me so deeply. Although I have not encountered Cathy (as yet) I do know the value of a freelance editor and am grateful to call the editor I work with my mentor and friend.

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  6. Stacy S. Jensen says

    Thanks for highlighting Cathy’s book, work and your relationship. It’s great it is getting you closer to publication. Good luck.

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  7. says

    I’ve been thinking about purchasing Cathy’s book since I first saw you mention it, and this post has tipped me over the edge. Cathy sounds like a wonderful mentor and editor. I’m glad the two of you found each other.

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  8. says

    Am totally blushing over here! :)

    Working with you has been a highlight, Vaughn, and I’m grateful for WU for meeting you and so many other wonderful writers (Therese, Jan, Denise, Stacy, Rebecca, Ray… too many to name!)

    I can’t wait until your trilogy can be shared with the rest of the world — it’s something special.

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    • says

      Ah, my mentor chimes in. See what you’ve done? It’s all your fault.

      I know in my hopelessly romantic heart of hearts that we were meant to work on the trilogy together. If it ever becomes what I believe it’s worthy of becoming, you’re input and involvement will have been the essential element to getting it there. And I can’t thank you enough for that.

      Fun day, huh? ;-) Hope you’re feeling better and enjoying today as much as I am.

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  9. says

    You have me itching to finish the “do over” so I can hire Cathy ASAP! I loved Rock My Plot and as you know, I created a template for it for Scrivener. I’ve been slowly plugging away at it, but OCTOBER will be the month that it’s done and then ready to get it all down.

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  10. says

    Hi, Vaughn,

    An interesting topic and issue, in that today I think far less actual mentoring goes on — whether paid or unpaid — than in the past. Like learning a trade as a journeyman, this is the kind of craft relationship I think we’ve lost touch with in many sectors, not just in the arts or in writing.

    I do know that my own experience of being mentored, however, has had one pitfall.

    I’ve been lucky to have several folks who worked closely with me at times on projects as mentors (and one who took my money but did nothing, there are such people out there) — and in almost every case, the ones who did work closely with me eventually “went native,” if you will, or “went troppo,” as the Brits might say.

    Meaning that after a time, they got so close to the project in question, and to me, that they were as biased in a friendly, supportive way, as I was, myself.

    In time, I could look back on these situations and realize that the input I’d been getting was colored by my mentors’ own fondness for me and/or for the work. Warm and fuzzy, sure, but not, in fact, the clear-eyed honest viewpoint we all actually need from a mentor.

    I’ll tell you a warning line to listen for, in fact:

    “By the last five chapters, I didn’t even make any notes, it was so good I was just going with it.”

    Red flag. That’s what one mentor has said to me. That’s not good. When the supposed mentor turns off her or his critical faculty and is “just going with it,” it’s not the compliment it seems — it’s a mentor-failure. You’re suddenly getting no input because the mentor has drunk your Kool-Aide.

    Just as it’s hard to ask a good psychologist to say, “You’re well, stop coming to see me” (the payments are nice and the psych falls for the charms of the patient), I think it’s hard to ask a mentor to say, “OK, I’m now too close, myself, and we’re going to need to find you another set of eyes.”

    But I do think that’s necessary. Another set of eyes. And I think it may be up to the writer to stay alert to when a mentor is getting soft on you, not questioning things, “just going with you” — because it’s the writer who, in all likelihood, will have to say, “Hey, time for me to find another mentor.”

    I don’t mean to slam mentors — and certainly not Yardley in your case. This may have nothing to do with your experience, it’s not meant as a response to your own situation but to the general principle of mentoring.

    I’m not sure it’s possible for anyone to work on a long-term basis with a writer without eventually becoming a kind of third lobe of the same brain, ratifying what’s been done and said and thought and shared — with all the very best intentions, mind you, of staying clear-headed.

    I don’t know that it’s possible for anyone to be a “clean” mentor for the long haul. I find that getting comfortable with someone’s input is the worst thing I can do, and that I need to look for different editors over the development of a project, so new eyes, minds, emotional constructs, gender and political biases, whatever, are being brought to bear on the work.

    Know what I mean?
    -p.
    @Porter_Anderson

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    • says

      Hi Porter, Thanks so much for weighing in. And I think you’ve made some really valid and important points here. I think there is a danger of getting overly friendly or comfortable with the relationship. And I think Cathy’s done a brilliant job of walking that line.

      I think the genre thing is worth noting here. When I first considered hiring Cathy, I feared our genre differences might not bode well for her ability to give me the kind of critique I needed. But I actually feel the opposite has occurred. She has always cut through all the world-building and tropes of epic and insisted we focus on characters’ goals, motivations, and conflicts. She is a stickler for story. I needed (and continue to need) that kind of input.

      As for her drinking the kool-aid, having just received and reviewed my book three critique, I don’t have much to worry about there. She was as hard on the last five chapters as any other segment of any of the other manuscripts–perhaps as tough as on anything since the opening of book one. Yeah, I’ve still got a lot of work to do.

      Great stuff! Thanks for sharing your experience and for your solid contribution here, Porter. And for sharing on the grid.

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  11. says

    I love this post, Vaughn, and I can relate to it quite well. I met my mentor, author Stephanie Cowell, on Facebook, and we chatted a bit there. During the Writers for the Red Cross auction, I saw that one of the items was a 50 page critique by Stephanie. Unfortunately, the timing was terrible, since there were going to be layoffs at my husband’s job and we worried he may be one of the ones let go. I mentioned my disappointment to Stephanie, and she said that she had wanted to read my novel anyway. I told her it wasn’t done yet. She said that didn’t matter. I sent the first fifty pages and if she wanted to see more, I’d send it. She quickly asked for the rest.

    I knew that she and I work in similar ways and that she would instinctively know what I was trying to achieve in my novel. She did, and her comments were geared entirely toward that goal. She also told me that I needed a prologue, something I had avoided because I thought agents universally hated them. After I wrote one, I saw just how right she was about the idea. She read the novel again when I finished it and loved it so much she gave me an author blurb to use in my queries.

    I have now read Stephanie’s WIP to offer my insight, a gigantic honor to me, and have sent some freelance editing work her way. I believe, though, she’ll agree that the greatest way I can repay all her generosity will come when I am in a position to help a new author in a similar way. Madeleine L’Engle helped Stephanie. She helped me. I intend to pay-it-forward someday.

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    • says

      I love how your relationship with Stephanie developed and contiues to flourish, Kim. And it’s all for the love of the work, which makes it all the more special. I’m so glad you found one another, and I love hearing you say you want to pay it forward. :-) Thanks so much for sharing your mentor/mentee benefit. And thanks for being my mentor as well, my friend. Your input on mine was invaluable.

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  12. says

    My mentor, Dave Malone, stinks. He’s mean. He cuts thousands upon thousands of words—just gets rid of them! Can’t even sneak a comma splice by him. Heaven forbid you try to spice things up with a few or forty ellipses here and there. “Em dash, this, Dave.” He has the soul of a poet, and machete of a bushwhacker. And he is just what I needed.

    (I am working on a sequel, filled with all the good stuff Dave cut out.)

    Thanks to @Porter_Anderson for referring me to Dave, http://www.maloneconsultingonline.com—dot dot dot—I can’t wait to torture him again. @DZMalone, You’ve been warned.

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    • says

      I’m sorry he’s so mean, but I’m happy you found your poet/machete-bushwacker, Dee. And just think of the work he saved you on the sequel by slashing all those words for you to reuse. (Cathy won’t let me get away with em dashes or ellipses, either. Not even exclamation points are safe, for crying out loud!)

      Thanks for everything, Dee. Hope it’s warm enough for flip-flops today!

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    • says

      Always nice to know I was able to put somebody through @dzmalone’s wringer … Dee … glad that worked out so well. :)

      He’s an Ether sponsor, too, so one of my favorite haters of ellipses…anywhere…and definitely one of the more supportive mentors you’ll find out there.

      Good job passing on the recomendation…oh, and to really be good to him…we should point out to the Writers Unboxed that his new book of poetry, is out, and gettable…right…here:

      http://ow.ly/e5MEW

      Cheers and greetings to the Ozarks!
      -p.
      @Porter_Anderson

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  13. says

    I met a novelist at a writer’s conference years ago, and she took the time to encourage me in my writing. I appreciate it when established writers stay accessible and share!

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  14. says

    I bought the book a couple of months ago – and I loved the “simplicity” of how she guides the writer. That said, my pea-headed blackhole brain won’t see things in ways that allows me to use some of the advice – Cathy’s book, and the Writer’s Journey, and the Hero’s Journey, and others, and still, my brain is a weird and strange place full of black holes that hide things.

    Still, it illuminated things in the way my black hole parts can be illuminated, and I would recommend the book, too!

    I am going to take another look at Cathy’s book, now that I have a good solid draft written, and see if I can corral some of my wayward chaos . . . lawdy!

    :-D

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    • says

      Oh Kat, I am sooo with you on the black holes in the brain thing. They’re so dark, they swallow the light folks like Cathy try to shine in there.

      As simple as Cathy’s book and procedures seem, this stuff continues to be excruciatingly difficult for me. I’m not sure how I would’ve done mapping it all before a draft, but next time I’m going to find out. Fingers crossed.

      Thanks for the black-hole-brain solidarity, my friend! :-)

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  15. Bernadette Phipps-Lincke says

    Thoughtful post and Rock Your Plot is chock full of helpful advice, as is Cathy’s website. Cathy literally, rocks.

    As for your question about mentors – I was lucky enough to take a class with Lisa Cron at UCLA that changed the way I saw my writing. Lisa also recommended that the class check out Writer Unboxed, that changed my writing world again, for the better. Thanks to Therese and Kathleen, I’ve not only gained access to their insights, but the entire WU team.

    BTW Vaughn, I count you among my important mentors. You are always posting links I would have missed (more than one important Pressfield post among these), and your tireless work on the WU Facebook site is appreciated. By your gracious example you have taught me how to keep the faith, to learn and to progress, and most importantly, to extend kindness and friendship to my fellow writers. Thank you for all that you do. My writing world would be a far less enlightened one–without you in it.

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    • says

      Aw, thanks so much for your kind words, Bernadette. You’ve always been such a stalwart supporter–I can’t thank you enough.
      You are one of the brightest lights in my online writerly world, my friend.

      As for Lisa Cron, I’m envious on the class. I read Wired for Story right after I read Rock Your Plot, in preparation for this rewrite. I highly recommend it, and I think the two books work really well together.

      Thanks for everything, Bernadette! And good luck with your rewrite!

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    • says

      Hi Bernadette, thanks for sharing this story about Lisa. She is such a wonderful WU team member. And I second, third and fourth your praise for Vaughn on the FB page. Thank you, V!

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  16. says

    Let me just say this one thing, Vaughn- you’re paying it forward. You’ve become a mentor to me in so many ways. It’s a wonderful thing, and I hope to have the chance to do it one day myself.

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    • says

      Thanks Tonia! I’m honored to be considered a mentor by one of my wisest tribe-mates. And don’t worry about ‘getting a chance.’ You are already an inspiration to me and many others. Good luck with your revisions!

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  17. Ronda Roaring says

    Mentors are so important, so valuable. One of my mentors died last December. I miss him all the time.

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  18. says

    Vaughn,

    Thanks for your post. I’m on Cathy’s mailing list and have her editing services bookmarked because I knew I wanted to work with her eventually.

    I’ve been reading several very helpful writing resources lately that have helped me move my writing career forward. I just picked up of Cathy’s Rock Your Plot, at your suggestion. Perfect timing because I’m outlining two stories now.

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    • says

      Ah, serendipity–Love it, Roxanne! I love reading Cathy’s newsletter every month, too. Thanks for letting me know it was perfect timing, and good luck with the work!

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  19. says

    You make me think–sometimes tough to do on a Saturday! It seems to me, with writing, especially, it’s important to have mentors. Writing is similar to an apprenticeship type activity. You can go so far on your own, but then you do need other, more knowledgeable eyes on your “stuff” to help you see how to take it to the next level. I suppose we can make that jump on our own, but it will always take longer to stumble upon the next action than if we have a helping hand along the way.

    I have had those helping hands along my writing journey, but not really a mentor. Maybe it’s like dating or querying an agent and somewhere, out there, my true mentor is waiting! :)

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    • says

      Saturdays can be tough, I know, Lara. So glad I helped get you noodling. I agree that you can stumble upon the next level on your own, but I’m so glad I had a guiding hand. I love the dating analogy, and I know your mentor is just around the bend. Thanks for your ongoing support, Lara, and best of luck on your submissions!

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  20. says

    I read this post twice before it was published today, and I just read it again because it’s so good. Thanks for such a spirited post, Vaughn, and for introducing the WU audience to Cathy in a way that’s both honest and compelling. (Cathy, I am getting your book!)

    Barbara O’Neal has been like a mentor to me in a number of ways, most notably for teaching me about the industry while helping me to put things into perspective as I stumble through as a newbie. I’m forever grateful for her time and wisdom.

    I’m honored to be named as one of your mentors, Vaughn. Thank you.

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    • says

      Aw man, T, you just made my week… no, make that month. I mean it; I’m set for October, flying high on my mentor/friend/boss/hero/inspiration’s praise. I love hearing about what you’ve gained from our tribe’s sage and gentle voice, Ms. Barbara.

      Thank you, thank you, for all you do. May October bring you the many blessings you deserve!

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  21. says

    Vaughn,
    Thanks for this post. I’ve always considered you and Cathy as two of the most helpful people in the blogosphere. Who knew you had a mentor relationship. My mentors are my writing group, my book editor and all the folks on WU. I also believe in paying it forward and I frequently review the drafts of inexperienced writers on a pro bono basis. Thanks again and I will definitely buy Cathy’s book

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    • says

      Thanks Chris, and back at you! I’m glad to hear you’re paying it forward, but somehow I’m not at all surprised. Your supportive and caring spirit shines through in everything I see from you. I think you’ll find the book helpful. Thanks for all you do!

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  22. Linda Pennell says

    What a wonderful tribute to the importance of writers helping one another! Most human endeavors are better for having a team support system and writing is surely first among them. I am lucky enough to have two wonderful critique partners who don’t let me get away with anything and two best-selling authors on whom I can call for advice. In my experience, writers on the whole are a generous and kind bunch. Thank you for the book review. Sounds like one that needs to be in every writer’s tool box.

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    • says

      It’s so true about writers’ generosity. I am continually amazed by it. As a newbie I expected much more competitiveness and contention, and have received the opposite. Mostly via WU but elsewhere, too. Thanks for sharing your experiences, Linda!

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  23. says

    What an important post, Vaughn!

    I am a huge fan and supporter of mentoring, dating back to my days in college when pursuing an intense degree. I was asked to be a mentee in a mentoring program to help retain students in my discipline, and stayed on for the rest of my college years on the mentoring team leadership. The program won awards from the White House for its pioneering spirit — the students in the mentoring program were 2x as likely to graduate with that degree versus the students not in the mentoring program. Mentoring makes a HUGE difference!

    I am so grateful for all the mentors in my life — I would not be the same person without them. In writing, a tough and long road, having a mentor or two or three is essential. I hope to remain accessible to others not as far along to help mentor others as they write, as well.

    Thank you, Vaughn, for such a heartfelt and important post!

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    • says

      What a great story, Jennifer, and I love hearing the measurable results your team achieved. I’m a believer! And I hear ya on the “or two or three” part. I think it’s important for all of us to remember to thank those who’ve helped pull us along on our climb, and to offer a helping hand to those not as far up the hill. Thanks for sharing such a cool story, Jennifer!

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  24. says

    Beautiful, Vaughn! I, like you, would be in dire straights (curled up and fetal, probably with a bottle of something in my fist) without my closest writing partner. It is an invaluable relationship. Blessed are those who can find that perfect match!

    I loved this post. The perfect homage to Cathy!

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    • says

      Thanks, Sarah! Cathy’s talked me down from the state of curling up in a corner with a bottle of Boone’s Farm a few times. She calls it the crazies, and assures me that you and I are not alone. Glad you found your match!

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  25. says

    Vaughn and Cathy, I’m coming late, but wanted to comment. I knew superficial details of your relationship, and that you’re obviously both thriving within it, but it was neat to get a glimpse of its evolution.

    I’ve been both mentored and mentee, and I’ve witnessed a number of these partnerships. They range from mundane to profound, so about as much variation in terms of productivity and commitment as in a marriage. But when they work, oh boy, they’re magical.

    WU seems to be a gathering place for them. Coincidence, Therese and Kathleen? I think not.

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    • says

      Thanks Jan! I consider myself lucky, but I must say it’s always ‘felt right.’ I agree that WU is has become the perfect place for fostering all kinds of writerly relationships, from friendships to avocates to mentorships. And I also agree, having gotten to know our blog mamas, that it’s no coincidence. :-)

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  26. says

    HI Vaughn,
    First, thanks for your amazing post and referrals to Cathy’s services and book. Second, How wonderful that you are now fulfilling your lifelong dream of writing this trilogy (and more!) Probably didn’t feel so wonderful when you were stuck, or getting rejections. I also started my first novel last year after a successful business career and sometimes am completely miserable following a DREAM. How does that happen? Being a writer happens, that’s all it is, I am learning, from other writers, like you. A lonely endeavor only if you go it alone.

    “Some of you might consider it odd to name a hired critique editor a mentor” as you said, jumped out at me because my motto is HIRE THE BEST MENTOR MONEY CAN BUY. I needed encouragement there because while the book is still unfinished I look at these expenses mounting (two websites, email responders, internet classes, writing retreats, classes, editors, MENTORS YES!) Much value in your post here (is it possible that the student is becoming the master, I see a little mentoring in your future. PICK ME!) I also liked how you said writers who didn’t even know they were mentors are your mentors…. for me a few rise to the level of muse, don’t you agree? Now I go to the Facebook link, then your website, then Cathy’s, then her books. When will I write today? Jeez, see what I mean? xo Diana

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    • says

      So glad you found the post useful and inspiring, Diana! I saw before coming over here that you joined the fb group, and I think you’ll love it over there. While there are expenses, the one that rises to the top of the heap is the TIME it takes to master our chosen craft. I’m sure with a background in business, you appreciate that cost as much as I do. Reminds me of the Chaucer quote: “The lyf so short, the craft so longe to lerne.”

      Good luck, and be seeing you around my community!

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