This is my first year as a mentor with Cinnamon Press. Jan did a call out in 2013 asking if anyone would be interested in being involved in the 2014 mentoring programme. Obviously, I said “Yes”! The work so far has involved reading my mentee’s initial manuscript and giving feedback on individual poems as well as overall feedback on the collection at this point.
Having recently put a collection together I found the most amazing editing tool: Ctrl find. I went through my manuscript checking how many times I used a certain word and by swallowing a thesaurus came up with alternatives. It is boring reading the same old same old. This was advice I past on after having checked through this manuscript – it is incredible how we get fixated on a word or two.
My second point was about titles. Flicking through Emily Berry’s Dear Boy (Faber 2013) the list of titles is intriguing and beautiful and we must always remember this is the first thing a person reads and it can be a make or break word choice.
Our Love Could Spoil Dinner
The Incredible History of Patient M.
Everything She Does is Not Her Fault
My Perpendicular Daughter (my personal favourite)
The Tea-party Cats
Hermann’s Travelling Heart (another favourite)
Questions I wanted to Ask You in the Swimming Pool
These are just two of the points I raised (I won’t bore you with them all). We then set a timetable on editing and feedback through the year. There are usually three or four points in the year from when the student sends a completed part of the manuscript and we swap feedback, until the last feedback which gives some pointers on how to move on with the manuscript – it might include structure (such as order of poems) or looking for publishing opportunities or further work they need to do to develop the manuscript.
If this is something that interests you (either as a mentor or mentee) keep an eye on the Cinnamon website for further details.
“Cinnamon Press Mentoring Scheme is an exciting opportunity to work with us in an intensive project to assist authors to improve their work and chances of publication. Several authors repeatedly do well in a competition or send in good submissions to the press or to Envoi. Sadly, we don’t have the resources to offer the level of feedback and editing needed to assist all of the authors who show great promise, but the mentoring scheme allows us to put resources into those whose work we feel could most benefit.
We consider applications in the autumn of each year with a deadline at the end of October. Those who are successful are asked to submit a major body of work in progress by mid January 2014. Each student has a dedicated mentor who is an experienced writer and/or tutor and who agrees an itinerary for working on particular aspects of the manuscript over the course of the year. We work mostly by email, but some students and mentors Skype or phone or occasionally meet up if it’s mutually convenient and at the end of the year there is an optional residential weekend”.