Mentorship v. Making Your Own Way

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Image by MARJAINEZ for Rookie

Last week I wrote a piece for Rookie about how to spot a mentor but it also ended up being about making your own way, no matter if you have to whole world listening or not (all you need is a few loyal friends).

I’m taking my own advice, and building my own community of readers/listeners with a new TinyLetter I started. I wanted a smaller space where I felt comfortable sharing my (sometimes fragmentary) ideas and inviting others to share theirs. Each week I write a little thing about what I’m reading, and I ask someone to write a Reader’s Report of their own. Interested? You should definitely email me!

Also, this is from a while back, but I wanted to share my Carson McCullers essay from the Women of Our Year series at The Hairpin. Writing it, and being alone in Poland for a year partially inspired this new newsletter project.

Carson carried that malaise of being a young woman throughout her whole life. In “Stone is Not Stone,” one of her early poems, she says, “There was a time when stone was stone/And a face in the street was a finished face,” as if there ever was a time when everything was comprehensible. That idealism never left her.

In both her ego and her idealism I found a new kind of hero. I cut my hair short like her and tried to take up chain-smoking. Old habits die hard. I had held the magnifying glass up to her life, but it wasn’t learning the facts that had helped me. It was encountering her work at just the right moment, when I needed a new model for what to strive for as a writer, not so much adventure as boldness of spirit, not so much virility as vulnerability.

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