June 18, 2012

Writing Mentors and Meanies

How to Tell a Mentor from a Meanie
Mentors . . .
- are genuine
- discuss craft over drinks
- inspire and motivate
- laugh at themselves
- laud work of their peers
- teach more than what's in a curriculum
- encourage feedback on their teaching style
- share personal struggles and achievements
- teach without personal bias
- make themselves available outside the classroom
- never make you feel dumb, no matter how inane your question is

Meanies . . .
- read your work and say with a straight face, "To be honest, I thought you might be crazy."
- hand out lists of writers and then pass judgement on students who haven't read them
- ask students what kind of stories they write and then respond, "You won't be writing those in here."
- talk incessantly about their achievements that have nothing to do with writing
- say they are leaving a program to avoid class feedback forms, and then return the next semester
- expect you to know what you came to learn
- bring in their mentor who is really another meanie (this is when you have that Aha! moment)
- have no interest in your goals
- push their own style and interests on students

I have been lucky to find two mentors since I began studying writing and editing. Along the way I have also met meanies, whose wrath I have escaped or been forced to suck up. What can you add to these definitions?

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