LITERARY MENTORING – WHAT’S THE STORY?

“Your Merlin – Dave Lordan – the teacher, word-wizard, mentor and friend who will change your life” The Irish Times

With the literary scene, Mentoring is the contemporary form for the ancient practice of bardic apprenticeship, whereby more experienced writers work with less experienced writers in a tailored, encouraging way to improve the latter’s practice.

I was mentored – by Sonya Lovell in Clonakilty as a teenager, by Brendan Kinneally as part of my Mphil in Creative Writing in Trinity College, back in 2000. These mentorships hugely improved my practice.

I have been working as a literary mentor now for about fifteen years. I have mentored for RTE, DCU, The Stinging Fly, The Irish Writers Centre, Exchange House Traveller Service and many others. Now I work mostly independently.

I have played a significant role in, and been thanked in the acknowledgements of, well over one hundred debut book publications – poetry, memoir, fiction – in Ireland in the last ten years. Many of those publications have had great success in terms of prizes, reviews and so. One or two have even made a few bob – but take my advice, don’t get into writing if it’s rich you want to be.

I can guarantee to help people make their writing better – but I have no idea about making money or climbing career ladders. Neither does anyone else by the way – though they will bullshit you that they do.

On the other hand, I do know a lot about which kind of writing suits which kind of publisher, grant-giver, journal editor etc and happy to part with that knowledge.

For me, maximizing one’s ability to participate on one’s own terms in the great time-and-space defying conversation that is Literature is the key and sacred thing.

The genres I mentor are mainly poetry and memoir; occasionally experimental/avant-garde fiction.

The writers I mentor are motivated by a strong desire to express themselves, in their own way, and at the highest artistic level possible. They are willing to accept and work on constructive criticism. They love Literature, are open-minded in their reading, and enthusiastically engage with great books from all times and all places.

I am particularly interested in working with

  1. Over 50s working on grassroots memoir, or poetry.
  2. Adults from minority, oppressed, underrepresented backgrounds e.g small farmers & rural working class, working-class women, Travellers.
  3. Gifted young people 16-24, including young people on spectrum, who are super-interested in literature and seriously considering being a writer. 16-18 yo by arrangement with parents/guardians.

My mentoring programme costs €360 for six sessions spread out over 6 months – that’s over 80% cheaper than the Irish Writers Centre, for example. Before starting we have an orientation session to set our goals & tailor our program of work together. Each session lasts an hour or so and we combine line-by-line editing, overall structural advice, and discussion of appropriate general topics in literary studies and literary history. A lot of people extend for further six sessions – the maximum i allow.

I’m opening up some new places for the summer. If you would like to apply for a mentorship, contact me at dlordan@hotmail.com