I'm A Mentor / by Kenneth Buff

I've been assigned a mentee through my work. An 8th grader who wants to be a writer. I sent my first email to her today. It was pretty fun. Gave a little background info on who I am, explained my writing habits and my ten year writing plan. As part of the formats required by the program, I had to mention a problem I think that the younger generation will have to address in the field. I said that half the market still only shops in Barnes and Noble. Which really isn't a problem that should be addressed, in my opinion. In time B&B will simply go the way of Borders, along with crumby traditional publishing deals, agents, and the big five publishing companies. I guess a more accurate problem would be trying to set yourself apart in a crowded market place, but even that, to me, is not a problem. If your work is good, then it's good, if people haven't found it yet, just keep writing. Get a day job that you enjoy and write until your hands fall off. If your goal is to get rich quick, then you should find a different career. If you enjoy writing, and the idea of making a little extra money on the side is intriguing to you, then you're living in the perfect time in history, because that is now easy to do. There's also the small chance that you'll have a break out hit somewhere in there (an incredibly small chance), and there's a guarantee that if you keep up with it for a decade, releasing at least two books a year, that you will gain a real supplemental income from your writing, and probably be able to retire from your day job if you're able to live frugally. 

So, basically I want to tell this kid there aren't any real problems with writing, not if you love working hard, but I haven't gotten there yet. Also haven't mentioned yet that you'll need a second job, or that college isn't even required for this gig, just a few good craft books and a writing group, but the whole point of this mentor thing is to push the kid into college, so I'll try not to bring that up if asked. I will however point her into real things that help. A few blog posts by the man, Hugh Howey, and a couple craft books that really set me straight on the craft that is required for good writing.