Tuesday, October 30, 2012

How to Work with a Mentor

The title of this blog post is perhaps a little misleading. I only know the way I am working with a mentor, and I've only been working with my mentor for about about four months. Other people may find quite different ways of working with a mentor.

I received a grant in the middle of this year, to pay for a mentor to help me with my current writing project. This project is to write a memoir, in verse, about my life since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). I've been a poet for well over ten years, and have had my poetry published, but the idea of writing a memoir in verse was a slightly foreign prospect.

I wanted to do it though, so I found a  possible mentor, and applied for the grant (Richard Llewellyn Arts and Disability Trust grant). I was thrilled to win the grant, which gave me a goodly sum of money to pay my mentor, plus a smaller amount of money for myself.

Since starting work with my mentor, Dr Ray Tyndale, we've been meeting in a lovely cafe in Semaphore, Sarah's Sisters Cafe, and discussing verse, poetry, and my memoir. Ray has been terrific for me - I know to get the best out of this mentor relationship, I must produce new work to share with her, and must carefully consider her words. One of the reasons I felt a mentor would be useful, would be to keep me on track, and that's certainly been happening.

Before we started, Ray told me she would write all over my memoir, as needed, and I mustn't be scared of the red pen! It was a little daunting to see the amount of red pen the first time, but I took in what Ray was saying, and could understand what she was telling me. When I look back at the work I've shared with Ray at the beginning, and compare it with work submitted more recently, I can see, and she can also see, that I can understand what she's been showing and telling me.

I feel this relationship is working well, and we both know that if I ever feel it's not working, I can leave, and that will be OK. I can't see that happening though. I respect Ray's abilities, and enjoy working with her. I feel I know a lot more now about writing in verse, and I have hopes this verse memoir will be a useful reference for people diagnosed with MS, and their families and friends.

If you've ever worked with a mentor, I'd love to hear about how it was for you...

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