Surprisingly audacious reflections of a humble writer
I didn't plan on being a mentor.
My intention was to write nonfiction articles for children with the objective of getting them published and developing a bio. After several years of writing and publishing for kids, I had the good fortune of landing a job as an editor. But during this time, I noticed the children's magazine market was changing. Magazines were closing and writers had fewer opportunities to publish. My fellow writers and I had this sinking feeling about the publishing world.
So, instead of complaining about the situation, I tried to change it. I created Kid's Imagination Train ezine (KIT) an online magazine that inspires children to read and learn and gives writers a way to reach an audience. Being the editor of KIT required deciding if submissions could be accepted for publication. As I read manuscripts, I noticed many had the potential to be published, but the stories or articles needed revision. Since I understood how writers longed for publication, I decided to become a mentor and show them how to improve their manuscripts.
In the years that followed I helped a lot of writers get published; however, my very first mentee was the most memorable. G. Smith, a wannabe published writer, needed a lot of guidance.
Whether he was writing a story or an article, he had to be taught the importance of following the writer's guidelines (the standards writers are expected to observe). He had to learn how to use active verbs, create conflict, and perfect grammar. In addition, he needed to understand how to format bibliographies and compose query letters. Sometimes he got it and other times he struggled. At times, I wondered if I was getting through to him. Would he ever catch on?
Though he tried my patience, I applauded his persistence and pluck. He was earnest and sincere. There was something likeable about this writer. Eventually, through diligence and practice he got published. In fact, he got published in the prestigious children's magazine Highlights, which is not an easy thing to do because the editors only accept outstanding writing.
How did I learn of this achievement?
It's been close to ten years since our initial contact, and we still stay in touch. Every so often, he drops me a line just to say hello. He writes to ask me questions. He tells me about his writing accomplishments and his goals.
Not long ago, he mentioned that he showed my Facebook picture to his mom. Wow, I guess I really do rate with some people. I wonder what he told her?
"Hey Mom, here's the lady who marks up all of my manuscripts."
But maybe it's "This is the lady who never gave up on me."
Occasionally, G. Smith shares his rejection letters with me, which is pretty brave. I know of no one who shares their rejections. It's so personal. And yet when he sends one to me, I try to encourage him to persevere because if you want to call yourself a writer, that's what you have to do.
After all this time, G. Smith is remarkably disciplined.
He edits his work.
He continues to develop skills to reach a wider audience.
Most of all, he never gives up.
G. Smith understands what it means to be a writer.
And I couldn't be more proud.