This year, on top of the many hats I already wear (daughter, sister, aunt, friend, writer, grant writer, teacher, program manager, comics maker, Jamaica-phile, new knee poster child …), I have been gifted a magnificent new hat: Mentor. I have signed up with Girls Write Now to be a writing mentor. That means I meet once a week with a high school student — to write, to talk, to laugh a lot … We also have a series of genre workshops with the rest of the pairs in our cohort. Next week, she and I will read together at the first of the big GWN readings, and then we’ll work on what pieces we want to submit for the book GWN will publish at the end of the year!
I’ve never mentored anyone, at least not in any formal fashion. The extremely well-organized and competent women at GWN put me at my ease right away, however. Their mentor orientation and support system is strong, as is their system for connecting mentors to mentees. I was pretty amazed that they managed to pair me with the exact young woman I wanted to work with despite the fact that I couldn’t remember her name after our whirlwind speed-dating-style meet and greet at the start of the school year.
I hope my mentee — let’s call her Naima — is getting a lot out of our work together. I think it’s true, and she certainly says it’s true … but I really hope it’s so because I often feel completely guilty about just how much I am getting from our work together! This is a new aspect of my writing life, and I’m enjoying myself like crazy. Naima is delightful. She’s smart and funny and seems somewhat shockingly together for such a young person. Working with her is just plain fun. She makes me think differently about writing, makes me think about writing even more than I usually do. She also just makes me think. Always a gift.
Being Naima’s mentor is more than just writing with her, though we do quite a bit of writing. It’s all of our conversations, all the discoveries of her various clevernesses. It’s getting to know her family and talking to her about mine. I’m no sensei and she’s no grasshopper … or maybe we’re both senseis, both grasshoppers. And maybe that’s why this is such an interesting and enjoyable experience for me. She’s a sophomore, so I get to work with her for a couple more years before
she breaks my heart by growing up and I start working with a new mentee. It’s going to be so much fun to see the ways her writing develops over time, to see the ways we influence one another’s work!
See all of today’s slices over at Two Writing Teachers!