In 2015 I was awarded a year long mentorship by ASA – the Australian Society of Authors. I had spent ages perusing the many writers and editors available as mentors and finally settled on a Sydney based editor called Diana Giese . I studied her website and her history and decided she seemed like a person who got things done! And so she proved to be.
For 12 months I received the most wonderful support and insightful comment from Diana. I was invited to join the ASA as an Associate Member and they have been prompt, friendly and informative whenever I’ve had a question.
There’s no ‘but’ coming here. It has been an amazing privilege throughout. For a start Diana read my entire manuscript, which mentors are not obliged to do. From that point we worked on the manuscript together throughout the year – mostly via email with some phone conversations – negotiating changes, deleting parts that didn’t seem to go anywhere and adding a lot of material to expand the story and let the characters grow. I deleted about 30,000 words and added another 40,000.
It was such a thrill and a challenge to hear comments like ‘Your readers will want to know more about Jack’ or ‘I think Bridie and Jacob must get together’. As the story is an historical fiction I found myself researching things like National Service in Australia, music of the Depression years, what might an isolated woman be reading in 1950—knowing that I had someone to be accountable to and that she wouldn’t miss a trick.
I have a very different manuscript now from what it was beforehand.
The ASA offers these mentorships every year and if you’re a writer seeking inspiration and support, I urge you to apply.