My mentor’s feedback has been clear and structured, not pulling any punches but never making me feel discouraged either. The scheme itself has provided me with constant deadlines – despite an initial lag [due to having a child and leaving my job], the need to send submissions has kept the momentum going. Most of all, it’s meant I take my writing seriously. With someone as experienced as my mentor taking the time to read my work, I have to afford it a similar respect. That’s boosted my confidence more than any praise from friends or family could have.
The mentoring scheme run by TLC is honestly the best thing an aspiring writer can do to improve his or her work. I found my mentor’s feedback immensely useful and encouraging. It really helped me push myself forward, and solve issues that had dogged me for years. Doing the course gave me the confidence to start submitting short stories for publication, and I was delighted when several of them were selected. Anyone sincerely serious about their writing should consider this course. My only regret is that I procrastinated for so long before taking the plunge and signing up.
I do believe the TLC experience was crucial to my development as a writer. In particular, Sally O-J was hugely generous with her time, advice, and encouragement. At times I did get downhearted, but by the time I’d completed my mentorship I had a much more focused of the areas I needed to work on, in particular with that manuscript, but also more generally. I’m still working on the novel I worked on with Sarah and Sally, and enjoying the challenge of improving it. When I came to work on the next book, I felt much more confident, but more importantly I had a much better understanding of what makes a story breathe, and I’m sure it wouldn’t have been half so successful if I hadn’t had my TLC experience to draw on.
Once again, if anyone has any doubts about joining the mentoring scheme, put them my way. It’s been the best investment I have ever spent.
In terms of industry advice TLC have notably surpassed expectation – it wasn’t a major part of my decision to go with you, I thought I had a pretty good idea of the industry already, but the industry day in London was particularly good; I feel like I’ve now got a realistic picture of the difficulties in getting published yet feel quite well-armed to give myself the best chance!
Sara Maitland was a wonderful mentor: funny, wise, astute and inspired. I won the TLC mentorship as a prize and I was very lucky to do so. The mentorship with Sara helped me navigate my way to the end of a first proper draft of a novel. It also helped me to fathom my way through the difficult balance of remaining focussed on my writing despite other huge life changes (such has having babies!)and all the noisy busy stuff that often makes completing a novel very difficult.
From the outset one has the impression that you are collaborating in something and that your collaborators genuinely care about you and getting the best out of the scheme for you. That’s a feeling that was there from the very outset in the process of considering which mentor to match you with, but this industry day, which I just had the pleasure of participating in, has cemented that impression.
I thought it was a brilliant course with a mentor who looked at my manuscript with a critical but encouraging professional eye and helped shape it into something I am very proud of and I can confidently show to others.
“I found being mentored very stimulating and a great opportunity to learn how to improve my writing at all levels (plotting, character development etc). It was very satisfying to receive inputs from my mentor and to be able to look for practical evidence of how she solved the same “technical” problems in one of her published works. I was also very happy with the Industry Day meeting we had last year, again providing a wealth of practical information on how to approach agents and editors. Finally, it’s a real plus to be able to benefit from TLC’s contacts with agencies – to have a more direct route to an agent saves time and time is money.”
“It has helped me to regain my self-confidence and self-belief as a writer. It has shown me that I am capable of writing to a professional standard, provided that I continue to apply the lessons learnt. I can be more objective about my writing and I am better equipped to be my own harshest (i.e. best) critic. I feel inspired, encouraged and energised. I’m looking forward to completing my novel for a final critique.”
“Joining the mentoring scheme helped me take my writing to the next level. For the first time I was in contact with writing professionals able to help me. At the beginning, my mentor helped me clarify what I wanted to write. As the scheme progressed, I developed the motivation and knowledge to produce a draft novel I could not have achieved on my own. The scheme ends with a realistic taster of the publishing world, and ideas on what you need to do next to get that work published.”
“Tessa’s take on it is different from my other readers, and she often notices things that no-one else has. She also highlights problems I have secretly been avoiding, and brings them to daylight. Having a mentor makes my writing feel contained; as if she is ‘holding’ me and the novel, for a little while.”
“I found it fascinating and helpful. It’s a terrific idea to have a TLC read following the mentoring process. I am so grateful for all the support I’ve had from TLC on this book – it has improved the book and I know it has made me a better writer. Please thank the reader for me and tell her how much I appreciated her extremely detailed and specific comments. Aside from that, it’s a great feeling to know that someone ‘out there’ has read the book with such care and appreciation – it’s the way one hopes one’s book will be read by the fantasy millions.”
“My writing had for many years been a very private affair. The mentoring scheme took my writing out of this self-contained realm. Regular deadlines drove the first draft of my novel forward while regular feedback gave me a benchmark for assessing my work. Often my mentor’s feedback reflected my perceptions of strengths and weaknesses in my writing. Sometimes, it pointed out things I was completely unaware of. Sometimes, too, it prompted new ideas or creative possibilities. In summary, the mentoring scheme achieved what I hoped. It accelerated my progress towards what I hope will one day be a published novel.”
“To have the sustained involvement and support of another writer has had a profound nurturing influence, and my novel in progress has improved immeasurably. If a mentor’s role is to make him/herself redundant, then I feel that has been achieved. Above all, I’ve been prompted and encouraged to listen to my own sense of where I want to go with the novel/with my writing and given the support to go there. I also feel that the dynamic with my mentor has caused me to ask myself some big questions: what do I want from my writing? Why do I write? Such questions, for me, are beyond the scope of work on a single novel – or even beyond the six sessions undertaken. I feel the scheme has set me up for a writing life. In this sense, it really has been priceless.”
“Over the course of the mentoring scheme I have derived much support and encouragement from my mentor. She was admirably prompt in her feedback, thorough and very detailed in her analysis. Without her help, I’d never have sorted out the plot and the development of my characters. I am truly indebted to her for spurring me on and sparking off my creativity, thus picking me up when the going gets tough. She has shared in my journey, as a writer and in the completion of the first draft of my novel.”
“Knowing I have Susannah “in my corner” for this brief period has eliminated the sense of alone-ness, and having a professional writer say “yes, there is a great deal you can improve but you are on the right track” means more than I can say! I remain under no illusions about “getting published” but there is now a sense (which there wasn’t before) that it might be possible. It feels like I am being ‘fast-tracked’. Worth every single penny.”
“There were times when I had issues going on with my studies and my mentor kindly helped by giving me a sympathetic ear. She also gave me alternative ideas to what I was doing and recommended me to a university at which I am studying now. In a nutshell, I now have a novel on its way to completion with the possibility of being read by someone. And my University course is back on course.”