• Stuart White

#WriteMentor - Post #1 - select or select not…there is no try

Hey lovely #WriteMentor folks, this is first of my posts on the process of this programme. I want to give a perspective from this side of the fence to give those on the other side (which was me so many times) an insight into how it all works.

I'm just a writer who is extremely lucky, (and hard working, and has stumbled upon a story that resonated with both an agent and publisher) standing in front of a bunch of other writers (many much of whom are much better writers than me) telling them that I want to help them.

I want to help writers who are on the periphery of getting an agent or a publishing deal, who have worked hard to polish their craft and skills and who just need a wee helping hand to climb up the last decent of the hill. I'm holding out my hand to you and I am desperate for as many of you as possible to take it. Or the hands of my fellow mentors, all of who are like-minded.

So, we started #WriteMentor and we have done all the pre-amble, we've put ourselves out there with our profiles and our Q&A sessions, we've interacted with many of you on Twitter. And now the application window is open.

When it opened on Friday, we got an overwhelming number of applications in, just on day 1. They've continued to come in steadily since and we expect them to continue to do so until Friday. If you haven't applied yet, do not worry, nothing is decided yet, nor will it be, by any mentor, until after the window closes.

I want to say at this point that I am both humbled, proud and in awe of all of you. You have trusted with your work, you have finished a manuscript and you are now brave enough to try and send it out into the wide world. For that, you should also all be proud. It is HUGE!

The mentors have been looking through the applications we've received so far, reading your query letters, synopses and opening chapters. We've also looked at the question answers you provided. Those have been incredibly insightful. For a big relationship, like this mentorship will develop into, we have to be sure we are not only working with the right manuscript, but also the write person. These have helped hugely.

It has also introduced me to a concept which I've always been conscious of, have heard said to me in well over 300 rejections, and which I knew made a huge difference in this industry. But I still need to say it, even if I hated seeing it myself when I was querying. This is super SUBJECTIVE.

I've seen several manuscripts which have great first chapters, fine writing, well crafted and nothing wrong with it whatsoever. But I didn't connect with them because they just aren't my kind of thing. And by this, I don't mean genre or anything, I just mean that emotional connection you make to a story because of a million inconceivable elements and also some more apparent ones.

Like can I connect emotionally with the MC's goals and wants? Can I see myself being invested enough to follow this person's journey for 300 pages? Is the pace gripping enough, is the character flawed enough, are the characters distinct enough? There's so many factors to it.

So what's my point - well, simply this. If you don't get paired with a mentor in this programme, it is NOT a reflection on your skill as a writer, on the viability of your story, on the chances of success for you with an agent or a publisher. It is simply about us as writers, deciding on who we feel we could work well with to improve that other writers craft, manuscript and chances of signing with an agent and publication.

I entered everything for the best part of 2/3 years before I signed with my agent. Wrote 3 complete manuscripts in that time, tried all of them. I didn't get in. But I was self-aware enough to realise it wasn't personal. It wasn't even about my books. It was a combination of taste, luck and timing. That's it.

And the same is true for #WriteMentor. Taste, luck and timing. You might get lucky, you might not. But the same is true of the lottery, yet we play every week, ever hopeful.

Keep writing. Keep hopeful. And may the odds be ever in your favour.