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).
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.