Recently, I had the pleasure of being selected as a mentor for an impossibly awesome program called Girls Write Now. Professional women writers are paired with teenage girls who aspire to be writers. Each mentor and mentee is required to commit to at least one academic year. I love writing and I love having the opportunity to have a positive impact on young people, so being accepted into the program was a great feeling. I couldn’t wait to meet my teen girl and get started on a new relationship. Then something strange happened.
At the training session for the mentors, I found myself surrounded by some very inspiring women. This is NYC, okay? I’m used to being around talented, powerful people. But that room was packed to the brim with feminine intelligence, charm, experience and fortitude. I’m talking award-winning, critically acclaimed authors, journalists, editors and poets. Mind you, this is New York. The publishing industry lives right here. To be in NYC and have an impressive career/title/whatever in publishing is quite an accomplishment no matter your chromosomes.
I applied to Girls Write Now hoping to become a mentor and now I find myself hoping to become a mentee. I think that’s how it should be though. We should all have a mentor and a mentee in our lives. Having a mentor helps me see the light at the end of the tunnel. It makes my goals more tangible and having a mentee helps me stay on track. I can’t go around thumping my chest because I have a couple articles published. I can’t let my bylines get too old. I have someone who is looking to me for guidance on how to become a better writer and how to make a career out of this passion. If I slack off, I’m not only failing myself, but I’m letting her down as well.
Another thing that I’ve learned in the past few years is that mentors don’t have to be older and mentees don’t have to be younger. I’ve only been writing professionally for a couple years, so now at the age of 31, there are people in their 20s who have a lot more professional writing experience than I do and I will gladly take their advice. At the same time, I’ve met older people who are turning to writing as a third or fourth career and they want a little advice about breaking into it. It’s all love.
Do you have mentors and mentees in your life? Do you just have them for professional things or do you have relationship/spiritual/whatever else mentors too?
Oh and speaking of writing and grinding and all that. Make sure you check out the stuff I’m doing over at Madame Noire. I have two pieces over there today. One offers tips on how to use the stuff already in your closet to create new looks. The other one is about how folks like to call dibs on the “extra” money and time of single, childless women. I’d love for you to go over there and comment if you are moved to do so.