Twenty other writers and I had the good fortune of attending a novel revision retreat this weekend at the Santa Barbara Mission. It was organized by the highly organized Alexis O’Neill of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators).
At such events, I generally hope to find a mentor, or wise & trusted teacher, & this time I found a doozy. This retreat’s fiction mentor was Kathi Appelt, author of many fine books, among them The Underneath & Keeper. Her focus, attentiveness, and insight threw amazing light on our projects, whether picture books, early readers, middle grade or YA novels.
The Greek name, Mentor first appeared in Homer’s Odyssey, Mentor was the name of a friend and advisor who just happened to be the goddess Athena in disguise. There’s nothing like advice from a deity. It’s likely that Homer based his character’s name on the Greek word mentos, which meant intent, purpose, spirit or passion. Mentos traces its roots back to Proto-Indo-European & Sanskrit, & was used to mean one who thinks & one who admonishes.
Admonishment just wasn’t this particular mentor’s cup of tea, but many of the other historic meanings apply perfectly to Kathi Appelt. Thoughtfulness, intent, purpose, spirit, & passion all figure highly. At times her insight seemed inspired, so it might even be fair to argue the goddess connection. Kathi Appelt is a class act who knows her stuff. Writerly friends, jump on any chance you have to work with her.
Good followers, what qualities do you look for in a mentor? What mentors have helped you along your path & what qualities do you most appreciate in them?