Free Mentoring For Working Class Writers
Life is tough, we all need someone to hold our hand...
Today, I am launching a new initiative to offer free one-to-one mentoring to an unpublished working class aspiring writer each month for one year. My hope is that in 12 months time, I will have helped 12 working class writers who might not otherwise have had access to professional guidance. But before I get to that, this is how I came to this decision…
This week, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by journalist Claire Coughlan for a piece she is writing for the Sunday Independent in Ireland. It’s not out until October 24th, but I’ll give you a sneaky preview that the subject is ghostwriting. I guess there is a little mystery about this area of work because ghostwriters are often in the shadows and of course, it’s usually the author’s name you find on the front of the book. But there really is so much more to ghosting.
I could tell you the ins and outs of how I work: the interviews; creating the concept; the actual sitting down and writing. But what I think matters more than anything is the relationship between author and ghost. It is often a very intimate one, and what is more important than anything is that the author feels safe and secure to share their story.
This is what I emphasised to Claire. It is not just about the actual writing of the book, it is the hand-holding both before and after publication. You cannot ask that people open up to tell you their life story, and then clear off once you type THE END. It doesn’t work like that. Ghosting is often more like therapy, that’s why people find writing their memoirs so cathartic, and that responsibility must be taken seriously.
It’s also why I enjoy mentoring one-to-one so much, because I get to develop that unique bond with emerging writers, those who are writing their memoirs, or indeed trying to shape their fiction. I’m lucky that many of my friends are writers, if I get stuck – or even don’t know where to start – I can bounce ideas off them. Not everyone is that lucky, and writing can feel very isolating.
Add to that the fact that agents are sifting through hundreds if not thousands of manuscript submissions each week and the chances of being plucked from that slush pile grow increasingly thin. That’s why I like to offer my own hand to hold to others, even if only virtually.
We all have bills to pay and usually I charge £250 a month for this, but this is how it works: each week those who I am mentoring get a 30-minute one-to-one so we can catch up on their writing, where they’re at and any areas they’re stuck on. They can also call on me by email in-between if there’s an urgent problem that they can’t resolve alone, and my plan is to create a supportive group chat going forward too, where I can bring them together to discuss writing and the issues they’re experiencing in a supportive environment. Think workshopping without having to read your work out (the bit that everyone dreads!).
But I know, from experience, that there are people out there who would love this extra bit of support, to have someone who cares about their work as much as they do, but they just cannot afford it. So I would like to invite a working class unpublished writer to be my mentee each month. I’m hoping this ‘hand-holding’ even remotely will help them to get started and to instil in them some confidence to keep writing even when our month together is over. Today is October 1, the start of a new month, and a good time to commence a new challenge.
And look, I’m a council estate girl who left her comprehensive school at 17. I know people like us don’t get opportunities thrown at us, we are used to working for them, so grab this one with both hands.
For now, I’m only offering this to those in the UK and Ireland, you must be over 18 and have a work in progress you need some help with. It can be memoir, non-fiction or fiction. The mentoring will last for one calendar month, so that will be four online meetings one-to-one and some email support in-between if necessary.
If you would like to be considered, please email outlining for me in no more than 300 words your current writing project, why you feel you need help, and a little of your background. As I said, this is open to unpublished, unrepresented aspiring writers from working class backgrounds only. We will be working together in October 2021 so you need to act fast. I’m afraid I will only be able to reply to the applicant who is successful. If you are unsuccessful this month, try again for November, and subscribe to this newsletter so you see my next prompt here first.
My email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
I can't wait to hear your stories!