A journey mentoring an aspiring author for a high school senior project.
Last spring my phone rang. On the other end came the voice of a young man I knew very well. He was a junior in high school, preparing for his senior project. Why was he calling me?
“Hi, Carmen. This is Nathan. I’m wondering if you’d be my mentor for my senior project.”
I swallowed and paused as my mind swirled. “Um, what’s your project about?”
I’d mentored a couple other seniors either in photography or movie making and worked with other students on a movie format for the technical portion that is required of senior project guidelines. But Nathan? I had no idea what he was up to. He caught me off guard.
Perhaps he’s interested in photography.
“Well, I’ve almost completed writing a book….”
My mind screeched to a halt. You did what? Written a book? When? He’s a writer? But how?
“Did you hear me?” Nathan sounded somewhat puzzled.
“Um, ya. Nathan, when did you start writing?”
“A while ago.”
“Wow.” My mind attempted to make sense of this request. “Nathan, I had no idea you wrote. Anything.” I heard him chuckled on the other end of the line.
“Yeah, well nobody did.”
“Apparently not,” I replied. “I would love to, Nathan. Especially since your Tima Mugs (his great grandmother) was my mentor years ago. And now, you’re asking me to be yours. I’m honored.” Tears pooled in my eyes.
“Ya, cool huh?”
I was speechless as emotion swirled around me like a warm summer breeze.
Incredible was more like it.
The next day I met with Nathan at school and he gave me a copy of his manuscript. I thumbed through the pages, looking at the fantasy filled worlds. Yes, you read that correctly: worlds. Worlds of good versus evil. My heart expanded with pride, yet a certain anxiety sparked inside as I knew this would be a challenge for me as I do not write fantasy. Especially being Dystopia in flavor. Heat rose up my neck and then subsides as I realized I had friends who do write fantasy and was sure I could enlist their help when needed.
I signed the mentor form, agreeing to work with Nathan at least 50 hours. I was now officially committed.
Summer came and went and soon Nathan called. School had begun and it was time to get busy.
It’s now November and we’ve had a great start meeting once a week for 1.5 hours or more. Our time together has entered into a realm where evil is destroyed and a senior project is being created, nurtured, and will be brought to victory.
Nathan’s senior project will include writing fiction and honing the craft, editing, polishing, writing a query letter and proposal to send to an editor or agent, the publishing process and methods of publishing, and marketing. As hard as Nathan has been working, I hope to see this book in print someday.
Soon you’ll see what Nathan has been working on and what books we are sifting through to make his showcased presentation chapter and his final manuscript the best they can be.
My heart is filled with gratitude as we hone our craft together, not so much as teacher to student, but equals, as writers with a passion for storytelling.
Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as writer. ~ Ray Bradbury