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The Importance of Finding a Mentor


Finding a "Mentor" or even a friend as an up and coming writer is perhaps one of the most important aspects of a writer's career which is often overlooked or not even considered. Yet having such a person to encourage, prod on occasions, critically review, and offer suggestions or a train of thought you might never have considered is pivotal to writing your first book.


Take Tolkien and C.S. Lewis their friendship lasted throughout their lives, and together they read to each other, discussed other great literature, and posed ideas to think about. What more powerful incentive could there be than a friend telling you, "This is great, I love what you've done with this character, keep going I want to see more."

Let me share a passage from Tolkien about such a friend:

Lewis prodded Tolkien to pull together and complete his stories of Middle-earth -- the private universe that had preoccupied him for most of his life. Thanks to that ceaseless, friendly prodding, Tolkien published "The Hobbit" to great acclaim in 1937. The prodding continued during the long, fitful gestation of its outsized sequel, "The Lord of the Rings," which finally saw the light of print in the mid-1950s. "The unpayable debt that I owe to [Lewis] was not 'influence' as it is ordinarily understood but sheer encouragement," Tolkien recalled. "He was for a long time my only audience. Only from him did I ever get the idea that my 'stuff' could be more than a private hobby."

I started writing a book, an epic fantasy in 1996. I managed in the middle of raising a family and holding down a job four completed chapters. After that I found my work interfered too much with my writing and I didn't put pen to paper until the beginning of 2008. What rekindled my desire to finish my book you may well ask? It was something written on this web site "Storm the Castle."

"Hey listen, sit down and write the first sentence and watch it grow into a first paragraph and then into a first page and a first chapter. Oh and after you write that first sentence send it to me. I would love to read it!"

Will Kalif.


It was almost as if a fire stirred and burned within my being, I couldn't believe it. Someone was willing to help me and guide me. So! I sent Will my first sentence and he emailed me his opinion and encouragement. From the moment I took his word and did what he asked my story has grown, the first draft is finished and we are now editing. As Will was willing to help and become my mentor, so others wishing to do the same can follow suit.

I believe there are writers hiding within the millions of people who occupy this Earth and they are just waiting for an author, someone somewhere, to extend the hand of friendship and say "Yea! I'll help you; let me look at what you've got."

I promise you it will be the beginning of a great book and more importantly a great friendship. I leave you with this poem by Rudyard Kipling; see if you can find The Thousandth Man, I did:

One man in a thousand, Solomon says,
Will stick more close than a brother.
And it's worth while seeking him half your days
If you find him before the other.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine depend
On what the world sees in you,
But the Thousandth man will stand your friend
With the whole round world agin you.

'Tis neither promise nor prayer nor show
Will settle the finding for 'ee.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine of 'em go
By your looks, or your acts, or your glory.
But if he finds you and you find him.
The rest of the world don't matter;
For the Thousandth Man will sink or swim
With you in any water.

You can use his purse with no more talk
Than he uses yours for his spendings,
And laugh and meet in your daily walk
As though there had been no lendings.
Nine hundred and ninety-nine of 'em call
For silver and gold in their dealings;
But the Thousandth Man h's worth 'em all,
Because you can show him your feelings.

His wrong's your wrong, and his right's your right,
In season or out of season.
Stand up and back it in all men's sight --
With that for your only reason!
Nine hundred and ninety-nine can't bide
The shame or mocking or laughter,
But the Thousandth Man will stand by your side
To the gallows-foot -- and after!

Author: Christopher Ballantyne.


A Note from Will : My thanks to Christoper for this great article and it is my pleasure to help! If you have always wanted to write a novel wouldn't now be a great time to start? Send me the first sentence or the first paragraph!!