Tuesday, July 7, 2015


post by Lynn

I’m thinking about mentors these days. I’ve had a few, and am in search of more. Also, I just noticed that “mentor” is only three letters short of “tormentor” which I think might say a little bit about the relationship. 

Just kidding…

One of my favorite writing-related quotes of all time is this one:
“Writing can be like folding a banquet-sized tablecloth; you can do it yourself, but it’s a lot easier when you can find somebody to help.”
-- From Writing Brave and Free: Encouraging Words for People Who Want to Start Writing, by Ted Kooser & Steve Cox


Tina Welling is the author of Writing Wild: Forming a Creative Partnership with Nature, published by New World Library (we blogged about the book here). She also wrote three novels published by Penguin: Crybaby Ranch, Fairy Tale Blues and Cowboys Never Cry, plus essays and short stories which landed in national magazines and literary journals.

With all that in print, she obviously found somebody to help her fold tablecloths, eh?

Actually, Tina makes the bold statement that mentoring has been the most important factor in her writing career. 

“Without it, I would have spent years floundering,” she says. “To experience mentoring with a writer who has walked through all the stages from longing to publishing is invaluable. Not to mention time and energy saving.” 

Tina worked with several mentors along her writing journey. They each pointed her toward her strengths and talents, and offered support and encouragement.  It is through these relationships her skills were honed and her creative direction clarified.

“And when I was ready for publication,” Tina says, “they guided me toward the right avenues for seeking an agent and a publisher.” They even offered their own connections in the national world of publishing and gave their endorsements to people who could make her dreams come true.  


Now Tina is honored to be a mentor herself.  “I love this work,” she says.  “I love the teaching, guiding, cheerleading. When I receive heartfelt gratitude for passing on a writer to their agent or publisher, that writer doesn’t know yet how much fun I’ve had.”

One of the ways that Tina mentors writers is through workshops. She is a longtime faculty member of the Jackson Hole Writers Conference and also conducts creative writing and journal keeping workshops around the country.

This coming September 13 – 19, Tina will be exercising her mentoring muscles in a big way at the Willow Creek Ranch Writing Workshop. She is collaborating on the workshop with Janet Hubbard, author of two mystery novels: Champagne: The Farewell and Bordeaux: The Bitter Finish, published by Poison Pen Press (learn more about Janet here).

This five-day workshop includes two writing sessions each day, lots of mentoring (including advice on agents and publishing), writing discussions and readings in the evening and even a Kaycee rodeo. The workshop is limited to ten participants to ensure that Tina and Janet will be able to spend plenty of time with each writer. Oh, and participants will camp in cowboy tents at the original “Hole-in-the-Wall” outlaw camp. Fun!


In time, Tina believes, the writers she mentors will get the chance to become a mentor too. “Then they’ll know how satisfying it is to connect good writers with people who can bring their work to the world.” 

So, dear blog post reader, what say you about this whole mentorship thing?

Do you have one? 

Are you one? 

How do people go about finding mentors?


  1. Great post, Lynn. Mentors have been huge in my work and creative life, so I thought I'd throw in a few comments on the creative ones. First, how does one find a mentor? I don't think one finds a mentor as much as they find each other. My first poetry mentor was the mother of my wife's Italian teacher. She was a writer and poet and we decided to set up a small critique group, just three of us. She guided me into poetry by critiquing my first efforts at poetry and continued to mentor me for a few years until we moved to Denver. We stay in touch, she now lives in Michigan, and we're having lunch this week here in Denver. She's 102 and just released her seventh poetry book this December. Her last was two years ago, as she was turning 100.

    My other poetry mentor is Chris Valentine whom I met through WyoPoets. I met her as I was struggling to write my early poetry, and we again just found each other and have been collaborating and mentoring each other for years now. And most of that is online, with daily haiku and asking for help on the occasional poem we're stuck on.

    I don't think you can look for a mentor as you look for a job, but I could be wrong. I think the universe puts two people in the same small circle for a bit of time and something clicks and off they go. And mentoring works both ways. I was asked to mentor youngsters during my 30 years as a tech writer, and I learned as much from them as they did from me, probably more because I had more experience to process what I learned from them.

    1. I think you're on to something, Art. It reminds me of a time I was doing training as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Africa. One of the trainees asked, "Who should I be friends with?"

      My reply was, "There's no formula for friendship. Just go out there and you'll find each other."

      I imagine there are similarities with finding a mentor.

      Thanks for sharing. What a gift to have a mentor who is 102--think of the life experiences she has to share!

    2. I agree with you, Art. There is an old spiritual saying: When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. I think that applies to mentoring. And I like your point about the benefits of being a mentor. I know that I teach what it is that I need to know more fully myself.

  2. I like what Art says. There's that old spiritual saying: When the student is ready, the teacher appears. I think it works like that. I also like his point about the benefits of mentoring for the mentor. I know that I teach just exactly what I need to know.

  3. I have never had a mentor, but it certainly sounds like a fabulous idea! I semi-mentor my sister-in-law in running her small internet business, and I find it to be a joy to help her over the stumbling blocks that were so tough for me in the beginning. It's a waste of time and effort for someone to learn things the hard way when you can just tell them what you already learned the hard way!


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