Tom sitsRegular readers of this column may remember that before Christmas, I was nervously waiting for the results of an interview. Well, the answer took a while but eventually I received the good news, by phone that I had been hoping for.

From Able Magazine #109 (January/Februrary 2014)

I have been accepted onto Graeae Theatre Company’s exciting new writing programme – Write To Play. This inaugural year takes five deaf and disabled playwrights and works with them to develop their writing for theatre. It’s a thrilling opportunity and I am more than delighted to have been selected.

As part of Write To Play, we are to receive the support and guidance of an experienced mentor throughout the year. Early on, before the process officially started, we were each asked to list the qualities that we would like to see in a potential mentor, so that we could be successfully paired up with the right person.

What kind of mentor would I like? I found this to be a much harder task than I had anticipated. While there might be certain qualities that immediately spring to mind; ‘kindness’, for example, ranked high in my original top 10. Then I began to think that someone who was just kind might not be ideal when helping to push you forward, listening to your problems and, in the case of Write To Play, giving a balanced critique of the quality of my writing. So honesty was another necessary quality that I included.

The exercise really made me think about what having a mentor means. I’ve been lucky to have several throughout my life who have helped to shape my career path. They have each bought their individual strengths and combined this with a wealth of professional knowledge that, most importantly, they were willing to share. I hope too, that in return they have also gained a lot from the process of our shared discussions. I feel strongly that the mentor/apprentice relationship should be one of mutual trust and respect and mentoring time should revolve around discussion of key points, often set by the ‘learner’.

Mentoring can revolve around any subject and be with anyone who you feel would be able to help you to progress in your chosen area, whether in business or in more personal matters. Maybe there’s someone who you’ve already pinpointed as a potential mentor. It might be worth asking them if they’d consider you as their ‘apprentice’.

My experience has helped to improve my self-awareness; has driven me forward and provided valuable feedback. With this in mind I’m looking forward to discovering what insights my new mentor has to offer. Who knows – in a few years I could be a mentor too!