Whether you are trying to increase your skills at writing, editing or self publishing, a mentor is extremely helpful because they can save you time. A good mentor generally has more experience than you, is someone you trust, and they offer their knowledge in a manner which allows you to assimilate and apply it. A good mentor also provides encouragement and support.
If you are like me, new to the world of writing to publish, you may find that after publishing your initial effort, the desire to improve your writing skill becomes extremely important. You may start to research online, purchase writing and editing books and try to decipher the rules of the writing game. A mentor can help you recognize whether the changes you make in your skills are bringing you closer to your desired goal.
While you can learn through books and articles, having access to an experienced person who can answer your questions is invaluable. To put it simply, while that automated voice, which we have all encountered on a telephone at some point in our lives, can answer your questions; is it not better when an actual person answers your call and you are able to cut to the heart of the matter? And is it not even better when you and that person are compatible and develop a trust. A trust that allows you to listen to their suggestions and apply their advice?
Mentors can be, teachers, editors, beta readers, a writing partner or simply someone whose work you saw and admired. I connected with my first mentor by writing them a fan letter. Sometimes it’s someone who shared a writing tip with you, but they conveyed it to you in such a way that you quickly grasped the concept and were able to apply it.
The greatest reward for a mentor is when your work shows improvement due to their input. Mentors generally offer their advice and support because they remember when they struggled with the same topics that you are working on. They also use the mentorship to reiterate the lesson for themselves. If you or they see no improvement in your work or find that you are not applying any of their suggestions, well you and that mentor are not a match. There is another mentor out there for you, thank the person and try again.
Also, unless you are paying a person to mentor you and even if you are, do not abuse the mentor relationship by counting on them for every little question. There are hundreds of articles, books and blogs that offer advice. Use these to garner knowledge and to locate the holes in your writing, then compose concise questions that relate to your current WIP and pose those to your mentor. You may find several mentors work better than a single mentor, as each person may have expertise in a different area of the writing field.
I have several mentors, some help me with editing, some with story content, others with self-publishing. Outside of that I have mentors to help me navigate the social networking and marketing waters. I am also a mentor to others, sharing my knowledge with those who are just entering the writing to publish arena.
Writing can be a lonely thing. With the support of a mentor or several, you have access to valuable input that can help you grow in a more immediate fashion allowing you to meet your goals sooner than later.
Author Interview – Alex A. Akira
Tell us a bit about your family. I have little in the way of family. I was taken from my parents at a very early age and placed in the foster care system. Both my real parents and those that raised me have passed away from varying illnesses. My life partner or mate, as I refer to him, is my family, along with a few intimate friends.
What is your favorite quality about yourself? I am tremendously optimistic, almost to the point of naiveté. I am easily awestricken. Internally I am eleven years old.
What is your least favorite quality about yourself? I am tremendously optimistic, almost to the point of naiveté. I am easily awestricken. Internally I am eleven years old.
What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why? ”We are all accidents waiting to happen.” Radiohead
What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life? Staying alive and loving life more each day.
What is your favorite color? Black
What is your favorite food? Sashimi, Sushi & Dark Chocolate
What’s your favorite place in the entire world? My home.
How has your upbringing influenced your writing? My upbringing is totally reflected in my writing. My characters despairs, joys and hopes pretty much reflect mine at various points in my life. I’m also a beauty addict with a manic attention to detail, which anyone who has had occasion to read the initial edition of Dojo Boys: Dragon & Crow, my first effort, can tell you.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? I’ve always written and drawn. When I was fourteen, my English teacher read a passage of mine out loud to the class. I was mortified, as I was one of the hidden [avoid attention at all costs] but the way he looked at me after reading it, well for the first time in my life I felt…I had… worth.
When and why did you begin writing? After the above incident I read and wrote constantly. But I also drew. My peers liked my drawings, which kept me from being beat up, so when the time came for me to apply to college, I chose one college that focused on writing and one that focused on art. The art school gave me a full five-year scholarship… I stopped writing and started painting.
How long have you been writing? I resumed writing in 2008, approximately fifteen years later. I discovered Japanese yaoi mangas online and became fascinated, then I found fan and original online serials. The stories were both amusing and heartfelt, despite some of the author’s tentative grasp on the English language. Soon I began to write what was to become Dragon & Crow online, and then I learned of M/MRomance genre here in America.
When did you first know you could be a writer? This almost a trick question and my answer is not because I am a smart alec. As soon as I learned the alphabet, learned to read and how to string words together to form a sentence. I’m a big believer in “if you can see it, you can be it.” Now whether anyone else considers me a writer, lol, that is on them.
What inspires you to write and why? Life and it’s happenings inspire me to write.
I write to amuse myself, to release stuff that’s inside that I need to get out, to play God, sometimes. In a world where I control little, I can make my characters do what I want to.
Honestly? It’s a selfish pursuit on my part, allowing me to express parts of my imagination that I can’t express elsewhere. I do think of the reader in that I try to take them to the expected places in unexpected, but agreeable ways. But mostly I write to give a jolt of happiness to subdue life’s pain.