Mentoring with Cinnamon Press

A couple of years ago the first draft of my novel, Under the Pipal Tree (which needed a fair bit of work) was longlisted in a competition run by Cinnamon Press. I was delighted to eventually secure a place on their mentoring scheme where 25 authors were selected to be part of a year-long support.

The first time my manuscript was returned with red lines was a shock! Jan and Rowan Fortune sent me a report on what was good about the novel and what needed fixing. I couldn’t decide whether Rowan was a very clever young man fresh out of university or a middle-aged man with years of experience but I had tweeds and a red bow tie in mind. Much later I met him at a CP workshop and realized he was the same age as my son but had the wisdom of someone much older. It was wonderful to meet my mentors in the flesh - lovely people I warmed to at first sight.

I must add that the end of year workshop in Wales was an amazing experience. I was nervous at first but left feeling buoyant at having been in the company of literary souls.

Being a self-taught writer, a lot of creative writing jargon was lost on me. I had to look up words like ‘prolepsis’ and ‘deuteragonist’. One sounded like a malady, the other, the medical specialist who cures it.

Although the some of the remarks were blunt, I knew my novel was in the right hands. After all, I had paid for honesty, not someone to hold my hand and say ‘Wow’. Jan’s encouraging remarks that the novel showed potential and was a story ‘eminently worth telling’ and Rowan’s pat on the back about getting the dual timeline right, kept me going through months of working at the novel, doggedly pulling out clichés (a word I had learnt to detest by then), cutting, adding and questioning every sentence, every detail, until the end of the mentoring period. I recall writing at least four drafts with the promise of doing one more before I sent it out to agents. There are no shortcuts to this.

Mentoring with Cinnamon Press has been a god-send for me. Showing one’s work to professionals and getting expert advice is highly recommended. It has given me the confidence to reach that place where I know my book is ready for the world.


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