September 10, 2015

There's No Ship Like Mentorship

"Oh, hi!" my sister Joan says cheerily when she recognizes my voice on the phone. "How are you doing?" she asks.

I respond that all is well with us. I ask how she's doing. "Great!" she says. Joan lives in a seniors' residence/care facility in Edmonton. Mornings seem best for conversation.

"So what are you writing these days?" Joan asks. I share the topic I've just struggled with. She empathizes. Concerned that she might dwell on this sensitive issue, I try to change the subject. No way! She wants to know more. I remind her briefly of the history related to my theme and what I've been trying to write.

Joan and her family at the Passion Play--2013
For years, Joan has been my #1 Mentor, my go-to person when I am stuck on an article, need feedback, or a retreat from daily life.  "We can't fix this, Joan. We'll have to leave it to God," I remind her.

Joan, 16 months my senior, started school with Mrs. Johnson in Norquay, Saskatchewan. Loving school as she did, Joan and I played school at home. Joan gave me the gift of reading, which was fortuitous, because I didn't get a Mrs. Johnson.

I started first grade in a one-room school in homestead country. Mrs. Stein, our teacher, distributed Dick and Jane readers and workbooks to the younger students. Then she left us to figure things out on our own while she taught the older students.

At the end of my Grade-Three year, we moved to Edmonton. There Joan and I attended a school that had an actual library. There I discovered authors like Lucy Maude Montgomery and Gene Stratton-Porter, two of my mother's favourites. Of course, I read other literary greats like Nancy Drew and Cherry Ames Nurse! Together Joan and I would memorize our Bible verses for Bible camp. This memorizing project has also been a gift.

I was on my way to becoming an avid reader and a lover of language. In high school, I took English and an extra English Lit course where Miss Lyness got me going on the classics. Brought up on the KJV Bible, I could read Shakespeare with ease. I also took French and Latin. Although I didn't think of myself as I writer, I enjoyed writing assignments, particularly for Miss Lyness, who was an encourager.

Bible School and university meant more reading and writing. My essays improved. At U of A, I tutored a friend in essay writing. I learned to edit my own work. Joan, out in the work-a-day world, still listened to my thoughts on essay topics and sometimes proofread my work.

During my teaching career, I became steeped in children's literature. I enjoyed sharing my repertoire
Children's book by Fellow InScriber
of stories and good books with my students. My younger sisters say I encouraged them to read good books. Later, I loved sharing my love of story and language with my students. For a while, I tried my hand at writing children's stories and poems. I wrote in my journal and taught my students and our own children to do so as well. Now, it's the grandchildren. I love to read to them. Bella is the greatest bookworm among them, so far.

 Over the years, I've had many writing buddies/mentors, teachers, and, of course, my proof-reading and generally patient husband. My sisters--Joan, Shirley, and Wendy--support me in my writing too.

Hank, the Norwegian

A few Women Word Weavers

In the mid-eighties, a small group of like-minded women in Barrhead started a writing group. The Women Word Weavers are still going strong and I am thankful for the mentorship we can offer one another. The friends I have made through InScribe, the ListServe, and the InScribe Writers Online have also been mentors and encouragers. Thank you.

A book that found me at the exact right time with the exact
spiritual lessons I needed.

Looking back, I believe God has knit the love of writing and creativity into my DNA. He has led me through the background I need to write. His Spirit has guided me in the selection of some of my reading.

Have you ever had a book find you? I literally ran into the book at the left at a Blessings store. It was exactly the reading I needed at that time.

Does God smile when I get something out and published? Although some readers have shared their appreciation for a particular piece I wrote, I don't always know who of my readers has been touched or affected in a positive way by my writing. Still I cast my bread upon the waters. I leave the rest to God.


  1. The final comments were the powerhouse for me-- "I don't always know who of my readers has been touched or affected in a positive way by my writing. Still I cast my bread upon the waters. I leave the rest to God." Casting our bread upon the waters, thank-you for writing!

  2. Thanks, Jocelyn and Vickie, for stopping by. I was late with this post, but I'm glad you found and read my blog. Leaving the rest to God is a challenge at time, but a learning lesson and a happy thought.


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