Her words astounded me right away--I felt I had found a peer, someone whose energy I wanted in my orbit, someone passionate and inquisitive and the thing was--I had.
This was my second summer mentoring for The Adroit Summer Mentorship and I was stoked. I ironed out my syllabus and felt that anxious excitement bubble up in me when I received my mentee’s application materials, her stories and poems. They were jaw-droppingly gorgeous. This was a HIGH SCHOOL student? And that feeling is so exhilarating because--yes! What an honor! To work with someone whose words already ricocheted a little inside me.
Per the mentorship requirements, prose participants submit a new piece every other week, with revisions due by week six. As an option, I offered my mentee weekly feedback if they wanted to write additional pieces in the ‘off’ weeks. And she submitted work Every. Single. Week. And each week, the work was fresh, potent, funny--each week she dove into a new obsession or mode, each week her pieces were longer, each week she just trusted that narrative instinct and allowed whatever weirdness caught her ear or eye onto the page to run rampant.
It was a dream! And a gift. Because working with someone so incredibly fearless gave me permission to roll headlong into new work too. Speaking with her weekly energized me, comforted the slow-moving animal of my own writing, and encouraged me to be a student of experiment myself.
By the end of our weekly Skype sessions, our cheeks hurt from smiling. We bonded over Ocean Vuong and videogames, over fabulism and shitty first drafts, over questions I had as a reader that were hers as a writer to consider. I wanted her to know that she had agency in every sentence. That she did not owe deliverables to any particular reader but that knowing what a reader wondered might help her shape the narrative further. That her love of amphibians and magic and lyricism and humor was palpable and transferable--that I, in reading her work, also felt that love, that getting-almost-too-close-ness of her fascination, that because she was writing what set her heels on fire, my heels were on fire too.
What a privilege. What a quick 6 weeks.