Over the years, I’ve mentored many people looking to become writers (or, indeed, writers looking for new purpose). It’s been rewarding and many fine friendships have developed from these experiences.
Perhaps the question I’m most often asked as these relationships develop is, “How do you find the time to do it all?”. It’s a good question.
In answering, I’m going to make a confession: I recently sought help from another writer in a “spread-the-load” strategy. Here’s what happened.
Not long ago, I was involved in a conversation with some old friends about what kinds of cars our fathers drove. Don’t tell me how we got there: just happened. Anyway, this led us to one of the group talking about two guys he knows who have SUVs. He felt this was over the top and shared his reasoning. He then added that both vehicles were Cadillacs, and he set out against that theme as well. I’m not going to bore you with the details other than to say a discussion evolved and conclusions were reached.
“PJ, you might want to write about this in your blog,” one of the lads suggested. Fair enough: not a bad idea, but at that particular moment, I simply didn’t have any time available. “Happy to do it for you, if you like,” came the offer from the lead protagonist.
Now, truth be told, I was already over-due to post something on the blog (which I aim to do a least once a week, that being my commitment to the publisher who got me doing this thing in the first place, supposedly to add to my online “persona”). So this sounded like it could be an out. And after all, I would not claim they were my words, so I didn’t feel too bad…
Result: a relatively short blog entry that my pal authored and that got me out of a bind.
Now, this kind of thing is very rare. With me anyway. I take pride in writing, and that means having the time to write. In fact, I can’t think of another occasion where someone “ghosted” a blog entry for me. Still, I did feel I should ante up the truth about this one.
Meanwhile, back to mentoring folks who seek to be writers. Let me close by sharing my favourite story that I always relate to my mentees. It’s about the celebrated Canadian novelist and short story writer Margaret Laurence. Seems she was attending a cocktail party and a gentleman rushed up to her, drink in hand, beaming with pride. “Miss Laurence, so glad you’re here,” he said breathlessly. “My name is Dr. Robinson. I’m a brain surgeon. When I retire, I’m going to become a novelist.” I gather Ms. Laurence did not miss a beat when she gazed dryly at him and responded, “Oh, how delightful. When I stop writing, I’m going to become a brain surgeon,” and she walked off demurely in search of cheese and crackers.