Laughter. The first thing you hear when the elevator doors open on the 18th floor and you round the corner to Girls Write Now headquarters is laughter. Unabashed joy, excitement, and maybe some nervous giggles… but there’s no doubt about it: the women in these rooms — huddled around coffee cups, navigating rows of folding chairs and shaking the hands of their peers — are thrilled to be here, and ready to learn all they can about how to mentor the extraordinary young women who share their love of writing.
How to corral all these women, and contain all this exuberance, long enough to impart the knowledge that will make them all the best mentors they can be? It’s a feat that’s truly magical to witness. With the ringing of two brass chimes (so Zen!), the energy suddenly shifts: heads turn, voices drop to a whisper, and feet shuffle to take a seat. It’s time to get down to the joyful business of being a mentor.
As the day progresses, new mentors mingle with the veterans. Introductions are made. Veterans reconnect with each other, exchanging hugs, congratulating successes. And of course, stories of mentoring are shared.
- “Just remember to let your mentee lead. It’s nerve wracking at first! But follow her lead, and you’ll establish a rapport.”
- “We meet at a coffee shop every week. But every now and then, we go see a movie or grab a slice of pizza. It’s nice to mix things up!”
- “I was so caught up in thinking I had to ‘teach’ that I didn’t realize just showing up was the most important thing.”
- “If you have any questions, reach out to the GWN staff. They’ve heard it all before — no question is too silly to ask!”
- “She constantly inspires me. She’s only 17, but I feel like she’s teaching me about the world, every time we meet.”
Notes are scribbled and email addresses are exchanged. Shoulders begin to relax as smiles and nods replace nervous hand-raising and question-asking. Mentors, whether new or returning, are feeling more confident about the year ahead. Most importantly, they’re feeling a part of a community of women writers.
As chairs are folded and goodbyes are said, one mentor summed up what perhaps all of them were feeling. “I can’t wait to see my mentee!”