Seeing the Big Picture
January 11, 2016
The DD mentorship was an empowering experience. I had participated in a six-month mentorship before, through Humber School for Writing, but this mentorship was much more personal and productive for me.
My mentor Andrew Borkowski and I met in person at the beginning of the mentorship. I really appreciated this opportunity, as we were able to get to know each other face-to-face, and I was able to share some specific things that I wanted his feedback on. Andrew suggested that he read the entire novel at once, and then provide me with feedback. I was excited about doing the mentorship in this way, because I wanted to focus on the big picture, and have an overview of what areas were weak and needed attention.
Andrew provided written feedback and then we met again to spend an afternoon reviewing the novel. Again, the in-person meeting was wonderful, as we had a lot of back and forth conversation that helped me see more clearly what needed to be changed in my work, and what was working well. I worked on my re-writes over a period of several weeks and resubmitted the manuscript to Andrew. I am now working on a third draft, incorporating his final feedback, and incorporating some other changes that I feel I discovered needed to be made through the mentorship process.
During the rewriting I made several major changes, including character development of one of the main characters, a rewrite of the last 50 pages of the novel, and a shift in how I portrayed the motel throughout the novel.
The most challenging sections to write in this novel were the ones, especially towards the end of the story, in which my characters were hurt emotionally and suffered. I wanted to write much happier endings then reality dictated. I had the most fun writing from the POV of a five-year old. I hope to spend the next month or two rewriting and polishing the novel, at which point I hope to submit it for publication.
I advise future mentees to be clear about what areas of your work you need help with. Be open to making changes that might not match your vision of the novel. I did so during my mentorship with Andrew, and was able to develop new writing skills, and see my work more objectively. Don’t get too attached to your first draft.
Aside from the novel, I am working on getting some of my short stories published in literary journals. I have plans to take a sci fi/fantasy writing course in the fall. My other writing projects at this point include revising another novel that I’ve written, researching and writing a work of historical fiction based on the life of Ota Benga, and writing a YA fantasy book.