Pam's professional biography:
Pamela Courtney lives in Atlanta, GA, but the Red River of Louisiana permanently flows through her veins. She is a former Curriculum Consultant, but is now proud to claim herself "Teacher of some of the most intellectually stimulating Kindergarteners and 1st Graders." Pamela is a 2017 recipient of the We Need Diverse Books mentoring program; mentored by Carole Boston Weatherford.
Writing with Mentors: Musings, Mishaps, and Magic
Thank you Kathy. I am honored to have the opportunity to share my amazing journey in the We Need Diverse Books Mentorship program.
I’ve always dreamed of being mentored by an amazing children’s author. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the blessings coming my way. Blessings that challenged my work ethic, that demanded diligent study of craft, and blessings that I would rely on, and cherish. Carole Boston Weatherford offered guidance in a way I had not expected.
A POSTURE FOR RECEIVING
I dreamed that my time with Carole would make the writing road smoother. I dreamed Carole would walk me through my own work step by step, line by line. I dreamed my mentor would correct every scene I wrote. It will be so easy. But, I had to leave that dream world, a daunting and necessary step for my growth.
In our Q & A time, Carole Boston Weatherford asked one question that stood out and has remained unanswered. “What do you hope to accomplish in our time together?” [insert outrageous rambling here]. I thought I’d knock out several successful masterpieces (because yeah, I’m that good, and well, she’s CAROLE BOSTON WEATHERFORD). I reasoned that through magic that some sort of literary osmosis was definite. Carole was cool. “Well, let’s see. We’ll walk through this together.” No, no hand holding at all.
Was I ready to receive?
Incoming: “Your language is lovely. Powerful. You have a talent for visually creating a scene. That’s what drew me to your work. But … YOU HAVE NO PLOT” Ahhh, there’s that “something.” I straightened my back. I opened my arms. I sat waiting for her to tell me exactly what to do. Silence. This wasn’t easy.
Acquiring Experience: A consummate teacher, Carole maintained this consistent routine of guiding my writer’s eye. “Let’s discuss this scene. How powerful is it playing out? Think about how your students would receive this.” I kept waiting for her to, tell me what to do. This was guidance I hadn’t expected.
Nevertheless, my work habits changed. Researching even the minutest of detail is part of my writing. Hmm … “sun beats down on backs already low to the ground.” Must research actual weather conditions during this period. Examining each line, determining its rightful place – Carol, showed me how to ask that specific question for each scene. Perhaps Carole’s question has been answered. I realized that wanting to be a writer and positioning myself as a writer are dream worlds apart. Maintaining a posture of readiness is as crucial as developing work ethic muscles. I’m growing into a writer. Yes, I’ll say it, a good writer.
Here’s the magic. The education of crafting is ongoing. Seeing writing through Carole’s eyes broadened my vision of what writing, good writing for children should and can be. By the way, there was hand holding. Lots of hand holding. Step by step. Line by line. Thank you Carole Boston Weatherford. Thank you We Need Diverse Books. Thank you GROGers.