Meeting a Mentor

It was my 59th birthday, and I was as giddy as a teen at a Beatles concert in 1964. You could say I am a fan. She has produced a firehose of information on the business of being a writer, which happens to be the name of her book. Since March, I’ve read nearly 4 thousand of her blog posts. They are good. Really good. I’m soaking it all in. After three writing conferences, one writing class, a dozen Zoom sessions with experts in the field, devouring a stack of books on the craft of writing, accumulating another stack of books in my genre to be read, listening to books on audible plus multiple podcasts and blogs per day, having completed the first draft of my first book, and now having taken part in an evening with Jane, I have earned the title of “beginning writer.”

At my first writer’s retreat in February of this year, I met an accomplished editor. Let’s call her Mari Ann, because that’s her name. We connected. In April, she completed a manuscript review of my book, Finding Joy. On a phone call, I mentioned taking an online class on publishing. The price of the class was roughly equivalent to the price of my first car. Mari Ann advised me to check out Jane’s website and glean everything I could from Jane for free before applying for a second mortgage to pay for one class.

I took Mari Ann’s advice; on Jane’s website, I discovered Jane was going to be speaking in Cincinnati where my friend Amy lives. I asked Amy if she knew Jane. Amy said, “Yes, she’s the person Kevin [Amy’s husband] said he would send your outline and pitch to last year when you talked to us about your book. He worked with Jane when he was in the publishing business. She is a guru in the publishing world.”

So, I secured tickets for the three of us to spend an evening with Jane at the Falcon Theater on the other side of the Ohio River. Before the event, Kevin introduced me to Jane and her husband, Mark. Kevin told her I came from Georgia to meet her. She was delightful. Somehow, I knew she would be. I told Jane the connection between how my editor told me she knew Jane and recommended her website, and then how I found out Kevin knew her too. Jane talked with us for several minutes. I was ecstatic, but tried to play it cool.

On stage, Jane talked for 45 minutes about the most common fears writers harbor. She answered 1.2 million questions from the audience; 1.1 million of which were about AI. At the book signing, she recommended a book on the craft of writing pertinent to where I am in the writing process. Jane signed her book, The Business of Being a Writer with: To Joy—May you stay in the game. Thank you for coming from Georgia and happy birthday Joy

Thank you, Jane Friedman. May you stay in the game too. There are millions of us beginning writers out here who need to hear what you have to say.

Are you a writer? Do you aspire to write a book? Who is your mentor? Please comment below.