“The Shadow knows.” Some of you may recognize this line from an old detective drama that used to be on the radio. Though television had replaced radio by the time I was born, there was still one A.M. station that broadcast many of the old programs all through my youth. The Shadow was an alter ego with many characteristics and since my shadow mentors are wide and varied, I have gathered them together into one super-sized alter ego mentor. Here are a few things I have gleaned from this giant creation.
Voice - We know the Lord is speaking when we hear a voice that could only be His. We recognize the distinct voices of family and friends who are closest to us. We can also recognize authors by their voice. Through the words they write and how they flow off the page to splash in our eyes and trickle in our ears. It is like a writer’s fingerprint. We can read a passage and often know before we look at the reference who wrote it. It is an encouragement to find our own voice, knowing it too is unique.
Creativity – Many different genres, many different points of view with the same subject matter or story line. It’s amazing. Though the base line may be the same, the way an author expands a subject or the way the story is molded in each hand is vastly different. It’s like music. There are only so many notes but every composer takes those scales and puts them together in their own special way. The notes speak to their heart, create a melody and then flow out as a masterpiece. So it is with those who craft words. Vocabulary is limited and each person melds words together inside their soul until they pour out as ink on a page. These mentors encourage us to have our own waterfall of creativity. They urge us to be ourselves, no, more than that, they let us know that it is imperative to be true to our own tide of creative waters.
Inspiration – I have notes. I have lots of notes. And lists. And bits of paper with a scribbled reference. They have come from a myriad of sources but mostly from workshops, writing groups, courses and reading. They all get tucked away in a file. Well, some of them have been lucky enough to find a home. Others are spread hither and thither and may be found at the bottom of my purse or in the back of a desk drawer or some other dark corner. But they all get re-read at some point. Not often, but every once in awhile and they spur me on as I remember the motivation the note generated as I wrote it. To all who lead workshops or courses, know that you are mentoring those who are listening. Your words are not just heard and then forgotten. You are an inspiration.
Process – My favourite writing quotation is by Philip Roth and can be found in his book ‘The Ghost Writer’. But I found it in Philip Yancey’s book ‘Finding God in Unexpected Places’.
“I turn sentences around. That’s my life. I write a sentence and then I turn it around. Then I look at it and I turn it around again. Then I have lunch. Then I come back in and write another sentence. Then I have tea and turn the new sentence around. Then I read the two sentences over and turn them both around. Then I lie down on the sofa and think. Then I get up and throw them out and start from the beginning”
This is his process. This may be your process. We all have a methodology, a process that helps us to write. This reminds us to do what works best for us as individuals.
Shadows of mentorship may be found in many places and through many people, provided we remain open to the teachable moment. May your mentors be many and may you separate the silt from the river so that your writing flows for your purposes and for His. Meditate, ruminate and create. May we never give up and never stop learning.