A few months ago I hit a bit of a wall. I’d been writing some short stories, and though the ideas kept coming, the wall I hit was more of a metaphysical one. I totally couldn’t tell if what I was writing was actually good or complete baloney. There was no way to tell. Though the stories were all different in terms of tone and theme, I couldn’t grade any of them, or work out if some were better than others or why. It mightn’t sound that bad, but an inability to judge what you’re doing probably means you can’t edit either. So how could I tell if I was making the stories better, or worse?
Totally coincidentally, I spotted that a poet friend of mine (also being published by Valley Press this year) was a Poetry Mentor through something called WoMentoring. I investigated further, and discovered that it’s a collective of literary women who are trying to help women writers who are lost in the mires of uncertainty. Their mission is:
‘To introduce successful literary women to other women writers at the beginning of their careers who would benefit from some insight, knowledge and support.’
You choose a mentor from the lists of relevant exceptionally talented women and write a little letter, telling them what you need help with and why. I wrote to a mentor (the fantastic Tracey Emerson) and heard back within a few weeks – and it was a big fat yes! I sent her three short stories and a clutch of flash fictions and the feedback Tracey has since sent back to me is just wonderful. Overall, it’s actually really encouraging, though she’s picked up some niggles here and there that I’d never have thought of but are altogether right. It’s made me think about what to look for whilst editing – and I think it’s at this point, after days and days of the early editing is over, when I start to lose the plot.
The next stage for me is to rework one of the stories and sent it back to her for another look. I’m taking my time – I need to do it justice. I’ve officially finished the first draft of my first novel now, so I’m resting it for a month or so (if I can!) to do these WoMentoring edits and work on editing the White Noise & Ouija Boards Anthology. And then back to the novel!
If it’s relevant to you, I can’t recommend WoMentoring enough. I really can’t. I somehow still can’t believe it exists without a catch! What it does is give you hope, a hand to hold, and a way out of the wilderness. It’s perfectly summed up in this illustration, created by one of the mentors:
You can read all about WoMentoring (and how to even become a Mentor!) here: https://womentoringproject.co.uk/ .