I wouldn’t be a published author without mentoring. Fellow picture book authors, Ann Ingalls and Sue Lowell Gallion, both members of the SCBWI KS-MO region have been extremely supportive of my development. I met Cynthia Leitich Smith through social media and her guidance on navigating writing as a career has been equally invaluable.
I haven’t served as a writing mentor before, but I have mentored others in previous careers. Serving as a mentor gave me the opportunity to give back for all help I’ve received throughout my life. It reinforced an early lesson I learned about helping others coming behind you (in whatever field you are in) to navigate that journey. Also, it taught me to listen to what the mentee needed (which might not be what I needed as a mentee) and to connect them to the resources that would best help their growth and development.
I hope that by working with my WNDB mentee I’ll learn more about the person and their writing style and interests. I’m also interested in the human or personal connection with other creative folks in this business, so I look forward to how my knowledge base will continue to expand based on the mentee’s background, what they write and what they need most from me as a mentor.
And this from Kathi Appelt, whose exuberant energy and love of children’s books have kindled fires in many writers:
When I was in the first grade, my teacher Mrs. Beall, looked me squarely in the eyes and said this wonderful thing: “Kathi, when you grow up, I think you’re going to be a writer.”
She probably said that to every one of the first graders, that’s the kind of teacher she was. But when she said it to me, I had this overwhelming feeling of YES. It wasn’t so much that I intended to become a writer in the first grade. In fact, what I really dreamed of being back then was a cowgirl. But what Mrs. Beall did was plant a seed of possibility. First grade is all about possibilities, about the shape of what can be.
And I think that’s what a good teacher does—shows you the glimmers of what can be.
I’ve had many wonderful teachers, and each one of them has taken my hand and in their own distinctive styles, shown me what is possible. This is what I aim for in my own work as a mentor, too. And who knows, maybe some day I’ll even become a cowgirl. It could happen.
Are those not truths to carry in our hearts? The human connection. The glimmer of what can be. Thank you, Traci and Kathi!
Note: This is not an official WNDB promotion but a reflection of my personal/professional interest in the program and in diversity in our field.