Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Magic of Mentors

Mentors are so important, no matter what your calling is in life. When I was fifteen I began volunteering at my local public library after school and in the summer. It’s a small library in a small town about 30 minutes south of Birmingham. At the time, there were two full time librarians and myself. We all shared the same small office so we got to know each other very well. The director and I quickly bonded and she began to teach me everything she knew about the library world. I soon learned that there was a lot more to working at a library then just babysitting books.

Over a ten-year span, as I gradually worked from volunteer, to part-time then to full time employee, the director taught me about working with people, managing money, speaking skills and much more. She helped me through both undergrad and graduate schools and it was really hard to move on from that job. I am now the manager of my own department in a public library that’s about three times as big as the small town library. I am confident in my job, partly because of this mentor and the time she took to teach me the skills that they don’t teach you in library science classes. I still see her when I go home and also at conferences and workshops. She now, on occasion, wants my advice on issues and it’s nice that I can help her the way she helped me.

Another part of my life is writing and the mentors that I have are amazing. If you are reading this post, then you are one of them. J The support I have received in just the few months that I have been back with SM has been enormous help with my craft. For me to meet face to face with some of the best writers helps me know that, with guidance, I can be where they are in a few years.

Who are some of the mentors in your life? How have they helped you with your writing?


JoAnn said...

Sounds like you had the perfect mentoring experience, Barbara. I wish somehone had shown me the ropes early in my life. Instead, I stumbled around in the wrong career for 20 years. :-) But now I'm doing something I love, and like you, I am extremely grateful for the mentoring I've received from Southern Magic and RWA.

Carla Swafford said...

Sorry it took so long to answer you, Barbara. The LH contest kept me very busy over the weekend.

I'm like JoAnn, I've had several mentors, but the two that stick out are Kelley St John, Lyn Randal, Deborah Matthews, and Christy Reece. I can promise you, if not for their encouragement and advice I would have never finaled in a contest. I wouldn't have a clue of what I was doing wrong. As I wouldn't have known what I was doing right.

That's one thing about a mentor. They'll not just tell you want's wrong, but tell you when you're on the right path.

Thanks, ladies, I feel closer to being published everyday that I know you.