Mentoring is an important relationship
I take on a very limited number of mentoring clients at a time and in 2023 I’m concentrating on mentoring students who are also part of the Kith Community. This means that in addition to intense one-to-one support as you work on your manuscript, either prose (novels, novellas, short stories or memoir) or poetry (pamphlet or collection length, including prose poetry, concrete poetry, lyric poetry …) you will also benefit from fortnightly newsletters containing writing inspiration and prompts, online workshops and a five day online residential with other writers in your genre. The resources from the workshops and residential are yours to download and keep and will include lots of writing exercises plus meditations and other inspiration for your work.
I know from experience that the other writers in your group will be dedicated, talented writers who are also serious about taking their writing to a new level no matter how experienced they are.
In our one to one sessions we’ll focus on your work in fine detail as well as structurally with the aim of encouraging creative leaps and deepening confidence in your voice. Past students have included those pushing beyond the early stages of writing and those who’ve studied at PhD level or lectured in writing themselves for many years. Mentoring is something that can expand the vision of our writing practice at every stage.
As well as regular written feedback across 6 sessions we can also do follow ups on Zoom (as you feel most beneficial) so you can clarify questions as they arise. Throughout the year we’ll also dig deeper into how you find your writing rhtyhm, maintain flow, nurture your creativity and allow your voice to emerge.
Mentoring sets high expectations and accountability together with focussed support and encouragement. It involves honesty with kindness, being open to questions and a transformative collaboration. It’s a serious investment in your writing so we both need to be sure it’s the right step for you as each mentoring relationship is unique.
For those applying for Kith Mentoring, I have a maximum of 7 places available for those working on a a body of poetry and a maximum of 5 places for those working on a novel/novella/group of short stories or memoir. These places are now taken for 2023, but do contact me if you are interested in working with me next year.
Feedback from current students
Jan created a safe and welcoming space in the Kith’s Poets Group, where there was time to reflect and develop. There was a great sense of community within the group, despite being geographically separated and never meeting in person. The workshops were well organised and resourced, reflecting her depth and range of reading and knowledge. I particularly valued the ‘residential workshop’, which provided the opportunity to dig deeply into my writing.I found the one-to-one mentoring invaluable. Jan is a meticulous editor, supportive but also willing to challenge. She is generous with her time and it has been wonderful for someone to look at a body of work, which has allowed me to grow in confidence.YvonneWorking with Jan this year as part of the Kith Poets Group has moved my work forward a huge amount.I would highly recommend the course to others as a way to dig deeply into your writing and expand the boundaries of your current practice. Jan works with you where you are and helps you to reach where you want to be through encouragement and achievable challenges. This year has been transformative for my writing and writing practice and a rewarding and valuable experience.
I have valued every exchange and comment that you have made and it sends me back to question the poem/poems again in order to try alternative approaches. Being mentored over this year has allowed me to examine my writing in unexpected ways. It is through the exchange of feedback that I have learnt more about my effectiveness as a poet. In addition the close discussion and commentary on a whole body of work spread over the year means that I have time to respond and improve work in progress. I have discovered ways of strengthening my mode of expression and in the light of constructive feedback I have now completed a body of work that has achieved my aims for this year’s mentoring programme. I can also rely on my mentor to be honest and to offer a totally new perspective on my work.
I have had the pleasure and privilege of Jan’s time and expertise over a number of years. One of the key elements of mentoring has been the workshops. These are so thorough, detailed, and stimulating in their range and depth. They always lead into focused writing, whether it be prose, poetry, or journalling. The themes are broad and universal, but Jan always structures the work in very specific ways, so there is a particular objective. The supporting material and prompts provide a huge resource.
Complementing this approach is the all important personal feedback on one’s work. The essential element here is the targeted, detailed scrutiny, line by line, word by word if necessary. Suggestions are always made in a constructive tone, and there is a regime of both rigour and encouragement, as well as the drive to challenge oneself. Along with this comes the general advice about the writing, the way forward, adaptations. Jan is keenly aware how sensitive writers are, and always finds ways to make these our own modifications. Ultimately, the huge benefit I have felt is in knowing that a sympathetic and perceptive reader is appreciating what I am trying to express, and offering – in a phrase of Joseph Conrad on which I dwell a great deal – “the sanction of another mind”.
Jan is a sympathetic observer of one’s work: she has the ability and experience to “see it steadily and see it whole” at times when I become too involved. Her advice and encouragement are always to experiment, to take risks, to challenge oneself and the task. She has displayed great candour with my work this year, dealing with a project that I began with great enthusiasm, but ended up going nowhere: it was partly a matter of the nature of the material, partly a matter of tone, partly structure.
Sometimes a piece dies on the page and cannot be redeemed. Usually I know this deep down but cling on because of the time and emotion invested. Jan found ways to move me on and away from something not working. But, and this is the most significant point, Jan knows that no writing experience is wasted, and ensured that I came away feeling that I had learned much, and that there was a future in other directions.
I am a painfully slow at developing ideas: once inspiration comes I can work more quickly, but sometimes weeks or months may pass; then panic sets in. Jan has always kept confidence in me and the potential in a piece, reassuring me and telling me not to rush. Jan’s workshops surface again and again at such times, restoring confidence in the project. It’s like having a library of ideas and forms of experience to revisit when a particular stimulus occurs.
In conclusion, it will probably come as no surprise if I quote the familiar virtues. This year, in her mentoring of my work, Jan has maintained faith in my work, and helped me to do so; she has sustained my hope to improve the work, and that this is worthwhile; and above all, she has shown charity in her support of writers, as individuals with unique needs and desires. I owe her a great debt of gratitude for her support and her example.
Unless we give our writing time and power it will wither. Saying yes to your creativity always requires saying no to other things. Mentoring will cost you time and emotional and intellectual resources. It will also offer creative rewards and immense satisfaction, but it’s worth thinking about all the ways you are investing in yourself when you embark on this path.
The financial investment, which includes the workshop series, prompts and inspiration delivered 26 weeks of the year, an online residential and individual one-to one mentoring by email and Zoom. is £2200.
You can pay at the start of the year or spread the payment over the year and there is more about the terms of the commitment here
I am able to offer a partial bursary of 50% to one poet and one fiction writer so please mention when applying if you would need this in order to take up the place. I don’t ask for proof of this so please only mention this option if it really does make the difference of being able to mentor.
Mentoring is incredibly satisfying work for those looking for development, depth, a space to push boundaries and to find mutual support from the other writers and I look forward to hearing from you about your writing in progress. Please get in touch if you’d like to explore whether joining this pathway in the future would be a good next step for you.