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Monday, June 8, 2015

Paying it forward

This week, I received a lovely bouquet of flowers. It was a heartfelt thanks from another writer. I had shown her how to e-publish her fantasy trilogy, from registering with the e-stores and e-distributors to seeing the finished product for sale online. It was thrilling for her, and for me.

It also took me away from my own writing, and I didn’t mind. Why? It was my chance to pay it forward.

When I started on this publishing journey, with my first Carina novel, On Her Trail, I realized I was going to have to up my game and develop an online presence. Everything from learning about Twitter and Facebook to setting up my own web site. It was daunting, but with the help of my friends, I did it.

Then I decided to start publishing under my own imprint. That was a whole other order of headache. I took in-person and online courses, used, learned about cover design, learned about e-stores and e-distributors… the whole shebang. And that’s before I decided to publish my novels in print. Learning InDesign just about killed me.

But I did it, thanks to a supportive online community and my friend Karen Abrahamson who talked me off the ledge more than once. I have her to thank for the survival of my computer monitor, if not my sanity.

I also got a lot of financial support from the Government of Yukon, which is very supportive of its artists. There are many in-person workshops I couldn’t have attended but for the grants from the Arts Section.

In return for all this financial aid, I’ve held talks to share what I learned with local writers, but I have no idea if I was of any use to anyone. I responded happily to phone calls and emails from writers asking this or that question about the new publishing world. But it seemed like so little in return for all the help I’d received.

Then last year a respected, traditionally-published writer from my community contacted me, asking if I would help him get his memoir out. We spent the next few months working on it. And yes, it took a lot of my time, but I knew he would never have done it alone. He comes from a generation where he simply handed over his manuscript and the publishing house took care of everything. So this was an education for him, and frankly, a lot of fun for both of us.

There is no way I can ever repay all the people who helped me on my journey. But I can help others. Now, I’m no saint. At one point I will say no, regretfully. But for now, it feels right to help others on their own journey. It’s good karma.

How about you? Do you find yourself mentoring other writers? Do you wish there was someone around to help you?


Anne Marie Becker said...

So wonderful that you could help out others, Marcelle. I have mentored (to varying degrees) other writers, and enjoy it. I have to be careful, though, how much time and creative energy I commit to giving others. ;) I'm a big believer in paying it forward, though!

Rita said...

What a beautiful story. First that you are so kind and giving and second it was so appreciated by the person you helped. Thank you for sharing.

Marcelle Dubé said...

I think most of us do some mentoring, Anne Marie, and you're right--you have to be careful not to overcommit.

Thanks, Rita, but like I said, I'm no saint. It worked out well this time.

Elise Warner said...

A lovely blog about helping and being helped. You made my evening, Marcelle.

jean harrington said...

Marcelle, an inspiring blog. Good for you. As to your question about mentoring. I never have on the large scale you describe doing, but I have been a critique partner for several people over the last 10 or 12 years, and it has been a learning experience on both sides of the table. Better still, I have made many very good friends that way. Not to mention having gained far, far better manuscripts as a result. I guess the lesson is the more you give the more you receive.

Marcelle Dubé said...

Thanks, Elise. :-)

Jean, finding the right critique partner(s)... well, it's almost better than finding the right man!

Toni Anderson said...

I haven't mentored anyone. Well done you. I do believe in paying it forward and trying to help new writers. I also believe that doing is learning, but it's not possible for everyone. Kudos, Marcelle!

jean harrington said...

Marcelle, I love your comment. And in kind of the same vein, as my daughter has famously said, a woman would rather change doctors than hairdressers.

Clare London said...

This is a great post and a valuable reminder we're part of a community :). I'm eternally grateful to the people who helped me when I first started and I've always tried to help others following me into the business. And now *I'm* on the self-publishing track too, and my friends who went "first" have been helping me too! I just need to pluck up courage for that first self-formatting adventure... :)

Clare London said...

Jean, I love that quote :)

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