I suppose not everyone needs a mentor, but I do. That wise and trusted counselor or teacher, as defined by the dictionary app on my phone. My most beloved mentor was my father. He always believed in me and my abilities as a writer. Whenever I’d visit my parents’ house he’d ask “How’s your writing coming? Submit to any publishers yet?” To which I’d usually say no and then feel bad because I was letting him down, though he never told me anything of the sort.
I have made attempts to submit my manuscripts to publishers, I imagine all aspiring authors have. I also imagine all aspiring authors are familiar with those generic rejection letters mailed back in the SASE we happily provide in the hopes of good news. Compared to many authors I’ve made relatively few attempts to get my books published. I admit that I’m easily discouraged which is not a useful attribute for an aspiring author. I’m not afraid to admit that I do require encouragement to keep my forward momentum going. Everyone needs help at some point in their lives.
Along with my father, I had another amazing mentor in my high school English teacher named Derek Hulse. He and I shared a kinship and love of writing and reading. Like my father, Derek was a great storyteller and I never got tired of listening to him. I was brave enough to let him read the first book I ever typed (then it was called Spark of Beginnings but it’s transformed into Dawn of Allies) and he gave me useful advice and insight into my writing style. He told me all about “willing suspension of disbelief” by explaining how silly it was that no one recognized Superman when he was wearing those Clark Kent glasses. I can still remember him demonstrating by removing his own glasses and I recall it making me laugh.
Derek and I kept in touch even after I graduated high school and he came to my house to meet my oldest daughter Jordan when she was only a couple of weeks old. I remember that he always seemed to be smiling and he had such a profound appreciation for life. We fell out of touch eventually which I still regret to this day. When I started writing a new non-fantasy fiction book in winter of 2011, I eagerly emailed him wanting to share. The reply email I got back broke my heart almost as deeply as losing my father. Derek’s wife wrote me back explaining that he’d passed away in May of 2011. I remember crying on my kitchen floor after reading that and it still makes me cry as I write this. I had lost my mentor, friend and the man who had felt like a second father to me.
I am certain that both my father and Derek are still with me in spirit, guiding me, watching over me and sending me signs when I need them. I also have some very close friends that encourage me when I need it, give me counsel when I’m lost and teach me valuable lessons. They’ve all read my writing, either emails or books or both, and they all believe in me even when I might not. When I’m ready to throw in the towel and give up on trying to escape ghost writing anonymity, they throw that towel back in my face or twist it into one of those nasty whip things to get my rear in gear again. Sometimes I need a gentle nudge, sometimes I need a big old shove and they know me well enough by now to act accordingly. I may be an aspiring author but I am an accomplished friend and the love in my life is the best acclaim a rambling girl like me can hope for.