Marianopolis College resumes next week, but I won't be back in the building till the middle of January. That's because this semester I'll be on a writing sabbatical. However, it doesn't mean I won't have any students. Thanks to a special Quebec Writers' Federation project, I have begun mentoring a young writer named Raphaella.
To be honest, I was not looking for another project, but when the QWF approached me about this opportunity, I said, "I'll only do it if I really like Raphaella's writing" -- and you can guess what happened next. I liked it -- a lot!
Tonight, Raphaella came to my house for our first meeting. I had reviewed the first chapter of her work in progress -- and we went over it together in detail. We also discussed some basic principles such as the need to SHOW, NOT TELL; that ADVERBS ARE EVIL AND SHOULD BE ELIMINATED WHEREVER POSSIBLE; and that RESEARCH is often an essential part of the fiction-writing process. One of Raphaella's characters is a songwriter, and it turns out Raphaella has a cousin who writes songs -- so she is going to interview him and get interesting details to work into her story.
Not only is Raphaella a fine writer, but she was receptive to my comments and suggestions. When I asked her at one point whether she could handle more suggestions (I'd already given her a lot), she said, "This is what I wanted." That comment inspired me. Like Raphaella, I work with editors too -- and it's good to be reminded that being edited is a privilege.
Before I dropped Raphaella off at the metro station, I asked whether I had overwhelmed her -- that's because I know I can have an overwhelming effect on people and also because I gave Raphaella the attention I usually store up and give to 105 students! Here is what Raphaella answered: "You're very quirky [this could be because she saw me wipe the cat's feet when he came in from outside] and also very interesting. You cover all the bases at the same time." If you know me, you'll agree this assessment is right-on!
Next time, I'll ask Raphaella's permission to let me quote a little of her story. As for me, I'm delighted to work with such a bright, receptive and talented young writer. I expect I'll learn a lot from the process too!
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I don't think I'm the best, Mary Eva -- but like you, I love working with young writers. We are lucky, aren't we? PS: XO!