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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Are You My Mentor? by James L. Rubart


Have you connected with a mentor? A person a little farther down the publishing road who offers you knowledge, wisdom, support, or introductions to agents and/or editors?


One of the biggest surprises to me when I first jumped into the pub world was how willing established authors were to help. Many gave me an injection of hope, industry insight, and encouragement. A few turned into full fledged mentors who stayed in touch and offered any help they could.

And I continue to find authors who are ahead of me, reaching back to pull me on. And I love offering my hand to those a few steps behind.

Turns Out We’re Divinely Designed to Help Each Other

I was talking to my youngest son, Micah about authors helping me and vice versa. He said, “It doesn't surprise me. We’re wired that way, Dad. I watched this video clip on WIMP.COM of two-year-olds that instinctively help people without any prodding. It’s born into us to care—even though sometimes the world can drain it out of us. (Here’s the link if you want to check it out:  http://www.wimp.com/helpimpulse/)

Uh, Jim, I've Been Trying to Get a Mentor For Years

My guess is some of you are saying exactly that right now. You’re wondering if the above is true, why you haven’t found that mentor. I wish I had a solution but I don’t. If I had to offer an answer I’d probably encourage you not to try so hard.

For me, being the mentor or mentoree has come naturally. I didn't try to get my mentors, and frankly, the people I’m mentoring didn't try to get me. It just happened. There was a connection and I wanted to help them. Or, they wanted to help me.

It’s Always, Always, Always About Relationship

Have you heard the saying, “Most people are human lie detectors?” I believe there’s validity to that sentiment. Along the same lines, I think potential mentors can tell if they’re being played. In other words are you approaching your potential mentor with respect and even thinking about what you can offer? Or it just about what you can get out of them? If that's the reason plan on continue searching.

I've had the what-are-you-going-to-do-for-me kind of aspiring author approach me and I can spot it light years away. And I can also spot the author that is humble, engaging, and grateful. I’ll take the latter every time.

In The End

They want to help you. They’re wired to help you. But a mentor/mentee relationship isn't all about you. It’s a mutual exchange of friendship, encouragement, and help.

Your turn. If you had or currently have a mentor, how did the relationship develop? What tips would you offer someone looking for a mentor? If you are a mentor, why that person? What drew you to them? Or what turns you off?




James L. Rubart is a best-selling, award winning author. Publishers Weekly says this about his latest release, SOUL’S GATE: “Readers with high blood pressure or heart conditions be warned: this is a seriously heart-thumping and satisfying read that goes to the edge, jumps off, and “builds wings on the way down.”

He lives with his amazing wife and two sons in the Pacific Northwest and loves to dirt bike, hike, golf, takes photos, and still thinks he’s young enough to water ski like a madman. More at www.jameslrubart.com

15 comments:

Gina Conroy said...

I think for me it's not about having a major mentor (or being one) but having lots of mini mentors along the way. I think if people look at it THAT way, they might realize they do have a mentor or two or three...

Jim Rubart said...

Well said, Gina. One person doesn't have to do it all.

Lori Stanley Roeleveld said...

Well, an author who has become one of my mentors made a major impact on me by calling me out on some inferior writing I did in one of his workshops at a conference. That was a big moment for me. I had just received news of a significant rejection and then that happened. I was tempted to skulk off into a corner. Instead, I wrote myself out of that corner (and my funk)by sending the author an email that redeemed my poor classroom writing and deepened our friendship. I think along the way, we writers have many moments when we can choose to keep trying or let a setback define us. I'm hoping I have the courage to keep choosing to risk rather than run. Thanks for this post!

Jane Daly said...

I agree with Gina. Some in my crit group are further along than I am, and I'm further than others. PLUS, in this age of virtual relationships, some of my mentors don't even know they are! I read their blogs and FB posts and am encouraged to keep going.

Jim Rubart said...

Kind of cool the way those things happen isn't it, Lori? :)

Jim Rubart said...

Exactly, Jane. I've had mentors that didn't know they were that to me and have later met them and told them what an impact they've had on me. Fun moments those.

Jan Cline said...

I am surprised on a daily basis at the people God brings into my life to mentor. I can't take them very far, but I take them as far as I'm supposed to. I never thought I would be doing any mentoring, but it seems to come naturally as your son said. I do have a couple mentors, but I find that I must be careful not to expect too much of their time and not to expect magic from them. It IS about relationship. And we mentor sometimes without even knowing it. Like you have for me, Jim. Thanks by the way. : )
Jan

Warren said...

Sometimes you don't have to look very far. I'm forever grateful for the patience and urging that my daughter, Alycia Morales, exhibited while helping me with my novel and starting my devotion writing. I'm still not a writer, maybe someone with a unique perspective, and impressed with all the help gladly dispensed at BRMCRC. Thank you, too, Mr. Rubart!

don myers said...

Jim, I was part of a mentorship class that took place over a year, trying to address the idea of the "leadership vacuum" that gets talked about - a very skilled teacher and writer posed the idea of a "cloud" of mentors. Some living, some not, some personal, some from literature - that truth gets spoken into our lives in lots of ways. It was a very freeing thought for me. I think you even said something wise to me once - give me a while and I'll come up with it...

Erynn said...

You're absolutely right about human lie detectors. We can all tell when someone is trying to use us. My approach has always been complete and unabashed honesty. (ie: Hello, award winning author. I have a crush on your books. I may or may not have (definitely have) been stalking your blog, and have come to the conclusion that we're destined to be BFF. Check yes or no.) And for whatever reason, it's worked for me. I've been extremely blessed by my mentor. She's amazing--not someone I ever would have had the guts to approach to ask for help, but she's offered her friendship, support, and more than I would have ever imagined.
It's all about being completely real and having no expectations. Pretty much the same advice I'd give to someone about choosing a spouse.

Jim Rubart said...

Well said, Erynn. Your approach is honest and flavored with a nice splash of humor and surprise which always helps. :)

Jim Rubart said...

Ah, you are kind, Warren.

Jim Rubart said...

That makes my day, Jan. :)

Jim Rubart said...

Hah! One whole time? Awesome.

That cloud idea might have traction ...

Shelley St. John said...

Hi! I'm still in the should it be fiction or true life conundrum. However, I do want to make sure that I thank you so much. While not necessarily mentoring me as a writer, you (& I feel more importantly!) have mentored me through your books into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. You wrote things in your book that caught me totally unaware-realizing I had never thought about a scripture in that way before. The most vivid example that slways sticks out in my mind is when you point out that when Jesus got into the boat while in the center of the Sea Of Galilee, that they were instantly at the other side, which was a couple miles away. It really gave me pause: how many other miracles & supernatural feats had I glossed over, or, even when reading carefully, just totally missed. I think that's why we are called to be the body of Christ, each with different strengths. In that way, we make sure that something wonderful we should know about our Lord & Savior will be caught & savored, as an almost missed treasure.
Thank you for doing that for me! I can honestly say, I ALWAYS learned at least 1more spiritual truth from each of your books, & usually many more. Your books have truly been a blessing in my life. Thank you for opening up your heart & letting God work through you in your awesome talent. May we expect a new book any time soon? I'll be 1st in line to purchase!!