|Julia Green and agent Jodie Marsh|
These students will always be special, as they are the first ones I tutored on the MA Writing for Young People at Bath Spa Uni. I say tutored, because that's what it says on my pay slip. But that isn't really what it felt like. They already had talent, technique and an excellent work ethic. So, I felt more like a mentor. My job really was to drink tea, read attentively and listen while they found solutions.
I love the idea of mentors. I have been very lucky as a number of writers who's careers are further along than mine have taken the time to listen to me, to give advice and say 'that's normal, we all feel like that'.
My own MA tutor, Julia Green (who has a new book out this month Bringing the Summer!) was such a graceful mentor. She told me I had to re-write the first half of my novel with such kindness that I left her office grinning, not crying.
|Me and the anthology editor, Sarah Benwell|
Other writers have given me wonderful pieces of advice; Marie-Louise Jensen told me about the Scattered Authors' Society, through which I've come to know some wonderful writers. Liz Kessler has been fab at making this industry feel like fun when it can so easily grind you down (see her post on her love affair with Twitter, somehow everything she works on feels like that). Actually, there's lots of great Liz-advice to choose from, but my favourite was during a discussion of commercial books: 'write whatever you want, but then stick wings or a tail on it'.
|Molly Drury, Maudie Smith and Sarah Benwell|
Of course, there are writers who would rather stab themselves with their HB pencil than work with others, but I think they are in a minority. The students who launched their careers on Tuesday are joining a very welcoming community of children's writers and we are all the better for that.
Have you had a mentor, and how far back can you trace your 'sense of inheritance'?
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