Wednesday, June 22, 2011

On Being Mentored-Words

You may not have realized when the first time a significant individual mentored your reading/writing career.

Brace yourself.  You may not want to hear this.

The answer: 


**First mentor:  your parent/guardian. Good or bad, this/these individual/s introduced you to the world of language: Mama, Dada, please, thank you, bottle, juice, etc.

Words, sounds, connections, and meanings blossomed before you could walk.

**Fast forward a time. Your next mentor, possibly the same individual, put a book in your hand, probably made of plastic to endure your drooles and sticky fingers.  The specific title didn't matter. You devoured the book, flipped a couple of pages at a time, threw it at the dog, then retrieved it at a later time. Soon you would realize the book had greater importance.

Language could be preserved, to enjoy again later.

**Time clicked. Your next mentor, perhaps a Kindergarten teacher, showed you ink embedded in paper in specific ways. Lines and circles had names called letters and those names never changed. She/he then taught you a sound/s to make when you saw the letter/s.

Lines and circle=letters. Letters represented sounds. Sounds could be squished together to form words. Do you remember the day you truly recognized a word--with no help?

**Birth of mastery:  Your next mentor/s surrounded you. You called for more. Babysitters, grandpas, grandmas, uncles, aunts, cousins, anyone who would sit by you and endure yet another reading of your favorite book. "Read it," you said.


Each time someone read the book new doors to meaning opened for you. Colors on the page, characters, why you even knew when the reader skipped a word (or two!). 


**Revelation: Your next mentor could have been a 1st or 2nd grade teacher, perhaps a parent or friend. They asked you to write something--more than your name. You grasped a fat pencil in your hand, pressed it to the paper and wrote.  You watched the lead marks form on the paper and realized, for the first  time in your life--YOU COULD WRITE.


Trial and error is a learning process.


**Development: Your next mentors probably didn't need to ask you to read or write. Their job focused on encouragement. Your history probably included reading Newberry Winners, non fiction, fiction, and of course, comic books at night with a flashlight, in the car during boring trips, or when you should have been doing chores. You may have written a few chapters of your first book in fifth grade, (I hope you kept it). Journaling seemed as important to you as brushing your teeth, no, I suppose more important.


Without being asked, you practiced because you wanted to.




Who are your mentors now?  



Here's a challenge: try to communicate with the mentors listed above and tell them thank you.



*********
This is my new series: mentors.  In two weeks: Mentors: First sentence key components/ Learning from master writers. 


*photos used by permission and courtesy of our Alley Cat, Angie, Tim's son and father, our Alley Cat Mary Vee's family, and our Alley Cat, Casey

15 comments:

Wendy Paine Miller said...

This is beautiful. Shoot, I had some pics. of my kiddos reading. Might have worked.

I tell my mom often she's my mentor. Her kindness inspires me. And she devours books. She used to stay up until 2am to read...to have that uninterrupted time.

I also have some beautiful writing mentors that I can't wait to thank in acknowledgments someday.

~ Wendy

Joanne Sher said...

What a beautiful post. WOW. Loved it.

Jeanne T said...

What a great post, Mary! I thought back on my mentors, and one of my most vivid childhood memories is of my mom, curled up on our couch, lost in fiction-land somewhere. Her modeling reading, and her obvious love for it, instilled a love for the written word within me. I had wonderful teachers along the way, most of whom I am not in touch with. Maybe I'm going to have to find a way to thank some of them!

I also have friends who encourage and a couple of them have mentored me in learning the craft of writing. I have thanked them.

Looking forward to your next post!

Mary Vee said...

Wendy,
Mom's are great mentors for many of us, I guess that's why I wanted to find pics of Dads/grandpas to use in this post. There are some great Dads who also mentor who sometimes go unnoticed..and with father's day happening last Sunday, had to include them in our kudos.
Staying up till 2:am--how did you notice? Peeking around the corner? :)

Mary Vee said...

Joanne,
So nice to have you with us today:)

Jeanne,
My daughter and I recently wanted to track down some of her old school teachers. WOW! I was amazed who all we found with internet searches and FB. If you want to- and have time to track down those fab mentors and surprise them with a thank you..modern technolgy might lend a hand. :) Happy hunting!

Casey said...

That is such a true post, Mary. Thanks for sharing my picture. :)

Stacy Henrie said...

I've had some great published authors who have been mentors at different times and then there's my own critique partners and other writer friends. And though my DH isn't a writer, he is a great support and cheerleader.

Beth K. Vogt said...

Love this perspective on mentors! It made me thankful for all the times my mom drove me to the library and let me check out a leaning tower of books to read.
I am blessed with many mentors . . . and humbled by their willingness to pour their insights and expertise into my life. I pray I have the chance to do the same for others.

Mary Vee said...

Casey,
You're welcome :)

Stacy,
How very true, we all have others in our life who, although they aren't writers or teachers, have mentored our writing career. Good point. Thanks:)

Beth,
Moms driving us to our city library! Yes. Introduced us to the wonderful smell of books, the vast array available, our ever changing favorite section to go to...thanks to all the moms:) Makes me think of the scene in Beauty and the Beast when Bell first sees the library. WOW
Great point-praying for the chance to do the same for others (I think you already do :) )

Pepper said...

Oh Mary,
So sorry I didn't get that pic to you. It's been a CRAZY week - but I love this post.
The pics are great too.

Mentors are vital. My parents have ALWAYS been my encouragers - the people who believe in me most. But I want to highlight the first person who called me a 'writer'. My granny. She died in October, but when I was 11 years old, she bought me an old-fashioned typewriter from a yard sale. She said, "Every writer needs a typewriter."

The last letter I have from her reminds me of her prayers. "God has great plans in store for your writing."
I can still feel her encouragement wrap around me when I see her pictures or read her letters. What a beautiful gift!

Julia M. Reffner said...

I love this! My Dad took me to the library weekly picking up a stack of books at least as big as mine. My mom was always troubled about his "pile" by the nightstand table. I have a pile now too.

This reminds me of my 5th grade teacher. I don't think I've ever thanked her, don't even know if she's still alive but maybe I need to get ahold of her. She was the first person to tell me I could be a writer and actually believe it.

Mary Vee said...

Pepper,
np about the pics. I figured you were busy. I knew your granny was special for you but, didn't realize she encouraged your writing. How blessed you are:)

Julia,
Ah, yes a dad kudo :)
I encourage you to try to find the fifth grade teacher. You will make her so happy, guaranteed:)

Sherrinda said...

Ahhhh, I love this post. When I think of mentor in regards to writing, I think of some pro-writer helping me along in my writing journey. I don't have one of those, but after seeing your post, I would have to say that my dad has always been my mentor. He is the one who has fostered my love of reading. What a great reminder, Mary.

Mary Vee said...

Glad you dad has been there for you:)

Angie said...

Great post, Mary! Sorry I am late in responding! It is so satisfying to sit with my child and help him read a word, then a sentence...I have been blessed with kids who love to be read to!