The Romance of Following a Mentor-Part One

Often, we are better for following mentors – even ones that we don’t personally know.

We had a big, June, outdoor, country wedding a while ago.  The ceremony was in a clearing in a forest, and the reception took place under tents in the adjacent fields on a family friend’s property.  My dad likened the set up to the planning that was required for the invasion of Normandy.  I felt pretty good about that – particularly because he served in World War II.

My husband and I thought of our reception as a kind of birthday celebration (two goofy kids’ idea of a good grown-up party), so we decided on a buffet with lots of our favorite foods, live dance music that would appeal to many generations, awesome cookies plus a croque-en-bouche (choux pastry balls assembled into a tall cone and bound with threads of caramel) wedding cake, and no assigned seating.  For the pre-service, the processional and recessional, we wanted a baroque quartet.  For the planning, I was armed with Martha Stewart’s Entertaining (circa 1982).

Martha Stewart's _Entertaining_ on

There are several weddings described in Entertaining and I borrowed details from them all.

I learned something from my experience booking the baroque quartet.  Martha, on page 280, casually mentioned that, for her younger brother’s Connecticut wedding, she engaged a student baroque quartet from Yale University.  That fact about musicians and Yale is nowhere in the index; that’s why I surmised that this was a casual bit of reporting.  My husband and I were getting married ten miles east of Poughkeepsie, New York, in a hamlet that is no longer on the map.  I approached a prestigious local college that had a well-respected music program to see if any students would like the gig.  The music department assured me that their students were eager for this type of opportunity.

That should have worked, right?  Except that the well-respected local college could not get out of its own way.  Could. Not.  The few students I was able to locate, classically trained college music majors seeking performance careers, could not guarantee that they could learn the first few bars of Bach’s Cantata No. 208, “Sheep May Safely Graze.”  Could. Not. Guarantee.

So, I returned to my mentor, the controversial woman who wouldn’t know me from Adam, Martha Stewart.  Instead of analogizing her text to my circumstances, I went literal.  I called Yale University.

Yale, even though they were not close to our wedding site, and even though our site’s location was obscure, provided several fine students who were able to master more than one piece.

Our wedding was a great celebration.

This brings me, several years later, to mentors and November’s two writing challenges: National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) and National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  How much does blogging impact one’s productivity in novel-writing?  Do you include actual bits of the novel on your blog?

For answers, I will be turning to virtual mentors tomorrow (Monday, November 10) and Tuesday (November 11).  I hope you’ll join me ~ and I welcome your comments.

4 thoughts on “The Romance of Following a Mentor-Part One

  1. Pingback: Romancing the Ingredients | Hailey Reede, Author

  2. Snoskred – thank you for visiting! I hope you’ll come back often. And, everyone, please visit Snoskred’s blog; she is a wonderful, generous-hearted writer.

    Your mention of reading music brought back my own piano-learning years. I was not a fluent musical notation reader, but, paired with a recording, I learned and performed my assigned pieces – all classical. Maybe it was really the listening to the recording that mattered; I totally rocked out the intro to Janis Joplin’s “Turtle Blues” that way. As you said, it is so much easier to hear a piece and then play it.

  3. Pingback: The Romance of Following a Mentor-Part Two | Hailey Reede, Author

  4. Hey there, I found you via the NaBloPoMo blogroll.

    When I played the Viola, I was able to read music. I did not have to learn something in advance. I was able to play it when I was handed the sheet music.

    If I knew what pieces would be coming up I would try to listen to them first, but everything I needed to know was there on the page. So I totally do not understand why they needed to learn anything. 🙂 And this was back in the days before the internet – it would be so much easier now to hear a piece and then go and play it.

    I’m glad it was a fabulous celebration. 🙂

    As part of NaBloPoMo I try to comment on as many participating blogs as I can, and I also add participating blogs to my feed reader.

    So I’m just dropping by to let you know I’ve added your blog to my feedreader, I’m reading you loud and clear, I have a link up going at my place so my readers can find participating blogs which you are more than welcome to add your blog link to.

    Looking forward to seeing your posts, and you’ll likely see me drop by again during November.

    Happy NaBloPoMo to you!

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