On an online forum today I heard about an incredible opportunity for aspiring writers. An amazing and generous group of women with experience in publishing (agents, writers, editors etc.) have set up a scheme (the WoMentoring Project) to offer free mentoring for other women who are just starting out. (If you're a man, I'm afraid you'll have to wait for an amazing and generous group of men to set up a similar scheme.)
They say it is their way of paying it forward. I say it's one of those heart-warming initiatives that makes you believe there is a point after all. 'Hope' has been on short rations lately, and one of the things that has kept me sane (no, really, I am!) is my writing.
It absorbs me, excites and enchants me, but my frustration is in how to improve, and this is exactly the kind of support I need. I will be applying, and I think you should, too! I'm sure there will be a huge response. Applications are open now until April 2015. But just hearing about it gave me a shot of that rare thing: hope. It gave me something to look forward to, and it also reminded me of how much the kindness of strangers has meant to me in the last twelve months. That this incredible group of talented women are offering their time, energy and interest to strangers for no greater reward than warm, fuzzy feelings - well, it uplifts me. I'm in awe of them. (I would be anyway. They're real writers and everything! Yet they're not sitting in some ivory tower hoarding their resources and hard-won skills - instead they're sharing with lesser mortals.)
The website reminds me a little of an online dating site. There are profiles to read; each individual's offer of support is tailored to what they can give, so that there are lots of things to consider when choosing who to apply to. Applications can only be submitted to one mentor at at time, and so you browse, looking for someone who might have something in common with you - do they have to juggle writing and kids, too? Do they specialise in your chosen genre? And all the time there's a little flutter of nerves in your stomach - what if they don't choose you? What if none of them do?
Well, I'm getting used to the pang of rejection, so there's not much to lose. I'm going to be launching myself at this opportunity - and if you've got the right chromosomes, you should, too!