Friday, January 11, 2013

My New Writing Mentee

I now have the proud position of being a young writer's mentor. She specifically asked me to help her on her writing journey, and I simply couldn't resist the opportunity.


That young writer is my 12-year-old daughter.

I don't know if I can accurately describe the burst of happiness in my heart when she asked me to be her writing mentor. I was thrilled. Honored. And yes, even humbled.

Last weekend, we had two writing sessions. The first was in our living room. We lit the candles, turned off all the lights, and each took a couch. She typed away on her laptop, and I typed away on mine. She plugged in her music while I chose to write in silence. As I glanced her way, I saw how fast her fingers were flying while mine sort of meandered over the keyboard.

I thought, I remember when writing was that easy for me.

And it used to be. I didn't think much about plot or developing my characters or conflict or any of that. I just wrote the story and let it take me where it wanted to.
Busy weaving tales...
Our second writing session was in my office. I let her have my desk and comfy chair. She grabbed her pillow and blanket (my office is on the second floor and slightly chilly) and made herself comfortable. Again, she typed away and her word count far surpassed mine.

My daughter's novel is now over 120,000 words long. She's pretty proud of that fact, and she should be. When I read her writing, I try not to look at it as a mother, but as a writer, and I have no hesitation in saying that she is a better writer than I was at her age.

I see good things ahead for her and I also see an incredible opportunity to share the writing wisdom I've accumulated over the past 25 years. It's even better when I get to share it with my daughter.

We had our first mentoring session Wednesday night. I asked her what sorts of writing issues she wanted to address, and she said, "Description and dialogue."

We focused on description first and I had her do a fun exercise. "Look at how the light touches objects in the room. Describe what you see."

To my amazement, she didn't pick out the most obvious things. Some of her answers: "I see the radio reflected in the picture frame" and "There are shadows in the folds of the curtains." I then explained how she could use these descriptions to create a certain mood in a scene. We also discussed using the five senses in description and how it's not necessary to use all five in every scene. It was a terrific conversation.

In reading her writing and listening to her observations, I am beginning to realize how she sees the world. It's different than I see it, and that is a good thing. It helps us both to stretch and grow.

And maybe, just maybe, she can help me find my way back to those days when my fingers would fly and I would be so enraptured with the story that I didn't care about plot or character or any of the rest of it.(But I plan to reserve that wild abandon for the first draft only!).

I've been given a huge blessing to be able to share my passion with my daughter. I look forward to the journey!


  1. This is so wonderful for both of you! What a great post to read! It especially resonated with me as my mom wrote stories with me when I was young. She didn't mentor me, but it was encouragement enough to have her sitting nearby doing the same thing.

    1. My mom was a writer, too, though she wrote news stories for the regional newspaper. So it was fun to compare notes!

  2. That's great! And she'll have an amazing mentor! :)

  3. This is beautiful. Congratulations to you both!

  4. That's awesome. I sometimes wish I could go back to those days where a little editing voice inside of me stays quiet so I can just write.

    1. Oh, me, too! Sometimes I manage to achieve it, but more often than not, that little editor is sitting on my shoulder and scolding me.

  5. What a fabulous thing to be able to do. Enjoy every second of it, as I'm sure you will!

  6. Melissa, I love this post! I truly believe that these moments with our children are the golden moments in life! I'm so glad you have such a wonderful relationship with your daughter, and that she wants you to be her mentor. I love it too, that we have as much to learn from our kids as they do from us. Here's wishing the two of you a fabulous writing journey together:)

    1. Such a nice comment, Valerie. Thank you! I, too, treasure these moments with her. It's amazing to be able to share the same passions with her. :)

  7. How wonderful! What a great way to spend time together and create lasting memories. You have so much to share with her and I'm sure she will benefit greatly from it! On a side note, I have the same record player but I, too, prefer silence when I write or research. :-)

    1. I've gotten so I can listen to Big Band or swing music okay when I research, but not the modern-day stuff (even though I like a lot of it). Weird!

      And it is SO AWESOME to be able to share my writing passion with my daughter. A true blessing!


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