One Tweet Can Change Everything
It was early summer. Black Lives Matter was having its Big Moment (that a lot of companies have since moved on from), and I desperately wanted someone Black to talk to about writing. I was dying for mentorship.
So I’m scrolling through Twitter when I happen to see a retweet of an organization called Black Girl Writers, and they were looking for new people. The program was designed to do exactly what I was crying for - finding Black writers a mentor that will understand beyond their written words. As it turns out, BGW was created out of the same frustrations I was feeling, and the founder decided to take the issue into her own hands.
I was delighted when the program got back to me saying that my top pick, Saara El-Arifi, was happy to take me on, and now I’m the first American writer in this amazing organization. So if you’re not in England and unsure if this program works on the international level, let me assure you that it does!
Having a mentor who’s not exactly like you is gold, and I would say this to every writer looking for guidance. It’s important to have someone who’s gone through similar life experiences, but having someone who can offer different viewpoints and thought processes will help open up your ideas and even address things in your writing that you hadn’t thought of before.
Saara has been so kind on this journey, offering amazing critiques that have vastly helped shape my book without ever being harsh or mean. Outside of discussing my project, being Saara’s mentee has given me the privilege to hear about how things work once you get through the door of finishing a project; finding an agent, landing a book deal, stepping into the big leagues with established authors and seeing where your career can take you.
I cannot express how lucky I am that I saw that initial tweet, how lucky I am that the organization had an interest in me and my book about a biracial girl in a deadly town. I hope that the same luck that led me here smiles on you, but more than luck, I have to acknowledge the very real dedication of writers that came before me.
Publishing has a lot of roots that go against Black interests, whether the industry realizes it or not, and those outside of the publishing “norm” have to work hard to be heard. A massive thank you to those who are looking out for new Black voices, and those coming in will remember to pass that hard work on for those that follow us.