I began writing seriously in 2006, during my first of two grad school programs. I was sure that I wanted writing to be part of my life, but I was unsure that I wanted writing to be the central focus of my life. I entered grad school with an urge to learn about everything and to write about everything; I thought I would decide later which subject to elevate as my primary interest. But I took a literature course with Randy Fertel, who helped me adjust the formula: write about everything to learn about everything, because writing is my primary interest. Randy was my first mentor, and since then I’ve been fortunate to work with several more.

Now I am thrilled to serve as a mentor for another writer. AWP (the Association of Writers & Writing Programs) coordinates the Writer to Writer Mentorship Program, which matches published authors with writing mentees. I get to be a mentor this season, the program’s tenth, to the remarkable Donna Tallent. Donna’s devotion to the written word and generosity toward the writers she admires are boundless. She has an important story to share and is working to share it both mindfully and artfully. When I first read Donna’s work, I knew I would learn from her and hoped she could learn from me.

I told my writer friend Jenni about the program, and she nailed why I feel so happy to be part of it: “It’s one-on-one writer talk with someone who wants nothing more than to engage in one-on-one writer talk.” Writers, consider applying!

(Photo shows a grad school field trip with a professor and writer friends—new friends then, still friends now.)