It came up about a month ago at a book event where someone was telling me about their writing journey. She talked about a course she had taken with the late Carol Shields and how this renowned Manitoba author had influenced her writing career. Then she asked me if I had a writing mentor. A name immediately popped into my head but I quickly dismissed the idea. It seemed too bold of me to assume that I had a mentoring relationship with the author that had come to my mind.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this was probably the best way to describe the influence this person has had on my life.
It has been uncanny at times. I always seem to be a few steps behind her like a distant echo. It’s not an intentional following but some common passions and personality quirks seem to be leading us inexorably down a similar path. There are differences, of course, but many startling similarities also.
At my lowest moments when I was ready to throw in the towel, she was coincidentally there also, ready with a patient but no-nonsense approach, enabling me to forget the self-pity and get back to work, doing what I most love to do - write.
Recently, Chip MacGregor addressed the topic of writing mentors in his weekly blog. He said, “A mentor is someone who is a bit further down the path from yourself – with more experience in the field, so as to give you some wise advice and direction, especially when you are trying to grow or are faced with a major decision.” Yes, I think I do have a mentor, after all.
So as you celebrate your 60th birthday and I my 50th (there’s that distant echo again), I want to thank you N. J. Lindquist for being a mentor to me.
I know there are many others who have also benefited from your wise counsel and leadership, many who have been helped along their writing journey, who have been mentored by you. So perhaps it would be fitting for me to thank you on behalf of those countless other writers who would not be where they were today if it were not for N. J. Lindquist.