Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Do You Think of Your Mentor?

I am at the 2016 Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference in North Carolina. We have a new director since I took step back to refocus on my writing. I’ve been enjoying teaching and seeing old friends. Making new friends is also fun.

Another great joy is seeing former conferees who have worked their way into the publishing realm. Many of these former conferees are now on faculty teaching the new crops of budding writers. All of them have expressed their gratitude for those who invest their time into new writer’s career. This has me thinking about those who have had a role in helping me along the twisting path of publications.

I think of Jack Cavanaugh who called me one night many years ago to tell me that he just signed his first book contract. I was happy for him (and a little bit envious) and told him so. He then abruptly changed the topic from his success to ask me about the book I had abandoned five years before. After a bad experience I had give up writing. He asked, “What are you working on?” He knew I had tucked away my first manuscript. I made an excuse, then another, then another. He agreed with each of my wimpy explanations then asked, “So, what are you working on?”

I gave in. With my fanny still stinging from the Jack’s boot, I pulled down the manuscript, turned to page one and started rewriting.

The novel, By My Hands, next went to Dave Horton, editor at what was then Victor Books. He bought it. Joy! He did a macro edit on it. Less joy. I clenched my jaw and began my first professional edit. He was right about everything. I learned the ins and outs of publishing. Dave Horton went on to other publishers, and Victor was absorbed into another publisher. I did several books for Dave Horton, and every one was a valuable learning experience.

Along came another Dave—Dave Lambert of Zondervan. He bought my novel A Ship Possessed. Joy! He edited it. I received my first “Dave letter,” a document roughly 20 pages long. Much less joy. You guessed, he was right about everything. Working with Dave Horton was like going to college; working with Dave Lambert was grad school.

There are many others who carried me over the rough spots. Mentors, encouragers, guides. I love them all, and I think of them from time to time. They are reminders to us that no writer’s journey is a solo venture. Who helped you along the path?

Alton Gansky is the author of 50 works, fiction and nonfiction. He is also the co-host of Firsts in Fiction. www.altongansky.com.


Southern-fried Fiction said...

How I miss seeing y'all! But I'm on deadline and have to keep writing. If I was up there, I'd be talking. lol Is Edie the new director?