Bill Walker, author of the book A Note From An Old Acquaintance, stopped by to share with us a piece he wrote.
I believe in mentoring. In ages past they called it apprenticing. A master craftsman, such as a cabinetmaker, would take on a young boy and that boy would be taught the master's craft through years of observation and grunt work (like sweeping up lots of sawdust) before even being allowed to touch the tools of the trade. He would then be assigned to make certain less important components of a cabinet, components that when completed the master would either approve or tweak, showing the apprentice where he needed to improve. It was up to the apprentice to observe and learn. I should also point out that apprentices were rarely paid. It was more a room and board thing. This has come to be known as paying one's dues.
Nowadays, with our world moving at an ever-faster pace, apprenticeship is not as practical as it once was. Today, skilled workers in various fields are turned out in record numbers, often to the point of market saturation, from trade schools and colleges. And while cabinetmaking can still be a genteel art form, you also have large factories cranking them out with soulless precision. The notion of craft is nearly non-existent.
Writing will never be a cookie-cutter art form. Every book is unique, requiring months of work, and drawing upon years of experience coupled with a measure of talent. Most writers find their mentors in the pages of their favorite books, reading, studying, copying, until one's own style and voice emerge. And, in some ways, this is the best way. But there are times in a writer's life where one needs a guiding hand to reach the next level.
I've been lucky to have a couple of mentors along the way. One who stands out head and shoulders above the rest is an elderly woman to whom I was introduced over a decade ago on the advice of a friend who knew I was looking for someone to edit my latest book. Elizabeth Klungness has lived a rich and varied life, which has included stints as an IRS agent (one of the few female agents at the time) and--when she was eight years old--served as an impromptu lookout for John Dillinger when her newspaper reporter father met with the famous outlaw to discuss the possibility of his surrender.
Elizabeth was more than happy to take on my book, and she has done her crackerjack editing on everything I've written and published since that time. Aside from correcting my tendency to overuse commas and any other grammatical faux pas, she is very skilled at spotting things that don't work, especially with regard to character development. I have my own instincts that tell me when things aren't working, but there are times when that instinct fails me, and a fresh pair of eyes is necessary to spot the problem. Elizabeth and I don't always agree a hundred percent, but her thoughts almost always spur my imagination, so that I come up with something better. And that is what the best mentoring is all about. Just like that master cabinetmaker teaching his apprentice, Elizabeth guided me with patience and aplomb. And for that I'll be forever grateful.
About A Note From An Old Acquaintance:
Brian Weller is a haunted man. It's been two years since the tragic accident that left his three-year-old son dead and his wife in an irreversible coma. A popular author of mega-selling thrillers, Brian's life has reached a crossroads: his new book is stalled, his wife's prognosis is dire, and he teeters on the brink of despair.
Everything changes the morning an e-mail arrives from Boston artist Joanna Richman. Her heartfelt note brings back all the poignant memories: the night their eyes met, the fiery passion of their short-lived affair, and the agonizing moment he was forced to leave Joanna forever. Now, fifteen years later, the guilt and anger threaten to overwhelm him. Vowing to make things right, Brian arranges a book-signing tour that will take him back to Boston. He is eager to see Joanna again, but remains unsure where their reunion will lead. One thing is certain: the forces that tore their love asunder will stop at nothing to keep them apart.
Filled with tender romance and taut suspense, A Note from an Old Acquaintance is an unforgettable story about fate, honor, and the power of true love.
Bill Walker is a graphic designer specializing in book and dust jacket design, and has worked on projects by Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Dean Koontz and Stephen King. Between his design work and his writing, he spends his spare time reading voraciously and playing very loud guitar, much to the chagrin of his lovely wife and two sons. Bill makes his home in Los Angeles.
Thank you so much to Bill for joining us today! If you'd like to pick up a copy of his book A Note From An Old Acquaintance, click the cover image below. Or click here to get a copy from Barnes & Noble.