I wish I had a mentor. I can’t really explain why, but I think that it has something to do with my
neediness abandonment issues aspirations of becoming a writer.
I recently committed myself to becoming a full time writer. That’s the dream – writing… ALL the time. Making the decision was easy, but once I had finished celebrating my decision-making, I realised that was the easy part. The reality of my decision involves working really hard all the time and not getting distracted or losing motivation. All the things I’ve perfected being terrible at.
Writing is lonely business. I’ve known that from the off. As a complete social recluse, I guess it’s part of the appeal. But every now and again I’ll get a crisis of confidence – a week will disappear and I’ll question what (if anything) I’ve actually achieved. Then I panic, because I don’t have the right work ethic. My writing isn’t good enough. I’m not marketable as person. I am an impostor, a fraud. I’m not really a writer – aspiring or otherwise and everyone knows it.
This is where the mentor comes in. The mentor has to kick my arse whilst also being supportive and reassuring. But not too supportive and reassuring. Encouragement is difficult to get right, particularly with weirdos like me. Too much encouragement and I’ll momentarily trick myself into believing I am doing so incredibly well that I don’t need to do much of anything for a while. I don’t really respond well to negativity so zero encouragement only confirms my fears of being an under-achiever and prompts me to fall into a depressive slump.
There are loads of potential mentors out there, and I’m sure someone out there might be right for me. But for some reason, whenever I think about my ideal mentor I imagine some dapper gent – someone sophisticated, wise, worldly, humorous, someone successful who can afford to by me mojitos.
Take, for example, Jonathan Ames’ mentor George Christopher in Bored to Death. Apart from the fact that he’s played by Ted Danson which automatically makes him brilliant, he’s a gent, an editor of a magazine, he makes martinis in his office and wears waistcoats. Brilliant. And to top it all off, he offers genuinely good advice:
That said, George Christopher isn’t the perfect mentor. My perfect mentor is the mentor of mentors, the crème de la crème, the spaghetti to my cold left-over bolognaise, the Jack Donaghy to my Liz Lemon.
Without a shadow of a doubt Jack Donaghy is my ideal mentor. The tragedy is, my dream mentor is a fictional character played by Alec Baldwin. The only way this fantasy will ever be fulfilled is if Jack Donaghy actually existed and Jack Donaghy actually happened to be Alec Baldwin.
This pretty much renders my search for the perfect mentor futile and perhaps a little bit crazy. I’ve set the bar pretty high. When you set the bar at ‘fictitious character’ you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.
I’ve contemplated trying to recruit a mentor using an application/interview/test process. But I think that might put people off. And I wouldn’t know how to go about ensuring that my application form/interview questions/rigorous testing methods would result in me actually finding my ideal mentor. Also because it looks like a lot of work when I really should be writing. And because I seriously doubt any level-headed person would actually go through the process, so I’d probably just end up with someone more crackers than I am. Not ideal.
So the search for the mentor kind of continues whilst also collapsing and becoming redundant at the same time. My dream mentor doesn’t exist, so I can only hope that some day a Jack Donaghy/Alec Baldwin type will appear in reality. If they do, and they become my mentor, I suggest that their first job is to stop me from wishing fictional characters actually existed.
In the meantime, (and in case you have no idea who Jack Donaghy is) here are some of Jack’s greatest personal attributes.