During our second meeting, Claire asked me questions about the novel’s plot and main characters. In essence, she was calling me out on some of the areas where I had been lazy in my thinking. Claire has a wonderful way of teasing out of you what you have been reluctant to admit to yourself, gently bringing you to a point where you can acknowledge the weaknesses as well as the strengths of your work.
I generally leave our meetings buzzing with new ideas and enthusiasms – I have found that a few suggestions from Claire can set me off on an exploration of many new avenues, where different vistas on the novel open up and exciting possibilities are discovered. It is my job to decide which direction to take and what changes to make, and already I feel the novel is becoming tighter, that I am weeding out the overgrown passages and cultivating more interesting plants in their place.
After five months of this process I am beginning to sense where the next level of writing is, and how I might start climbing to reach that level. It is the difference between the talented amateur and the writing professional. It is by no means easy to see where this level is, let alone to set about getting there. It involves shifting your mind-set, seeing the work from entirely different perspectives, attaining a whole new depth of concentration and letting the writing loose. It is a daunting but exhilarating challenge to face.
Read more about this writer’s journey here.
Robert McGinty, Scottish Book Trust New Writers Awardee 2017
I put pen to paper with absolutely no writing experience and it showed! I was overwhelmed after my first draft was edited and decided to undertake a mentorship with Claire Wingfield. I couldn’t have made a better decision.
I worked through several different exercises with Claire reviewing the results. I wrote the first chapter in third person (as per my first draft) and rewrote it in first person. As a result I binned the first draft and rewrote the whole novel in first person. This really allowed me to embody and give voice to my main character when writing. Claire also suggested writing three different beginnings to the novel. By the third attempt I loosened up and had fun. I never expected to create the opening I ran with.
Claire was an amazing mentor, deftly leading me to the best possible paths for the novel. Paths I would have never have had the courage to explore on my own.
Without Claire’s mentorship Elephant @ the Party would have been a completely different book. One that I would be not nearly as proud of and one I may never have actually published!
Julie D' Amour
One person without whom this book would have still been incomplete and probably lying as a rudimentary draft somewhere in my book shelf was editor and literary consultant Claire Wingfield. If it wasn’t for her constant guidance, excellent mentoring and eye for even the minutest of details, this book wouldn’t have seen the light of day. I learnt far more from her ‘comment boxes’ than people do in all those writing programs.
Vani Kaushal, The Recession Groom
When I started working with Claire, I'd lost my way a bit, with two half-finished manuscripts competing for my attention. Claire helped me to find my focus, and get one of them into shape. Her suggestions have been useful without being didactic, and she's really helped me to think about what my story is and what I want it to be. I've had to do homework for the first time in a long time, but it was the best kind of homework - getting to reread some of my favourite books and think about what made them so brilliant! I don't think I would have been able to finish this book without Claire - I can't recommend her highly enough!
Michael Richardson, Scottish Book Trust New Writers Awardee 2016
Anyone who has taken on the formidable task of revising a novel understands how difficult it is to achieve distance from the project. I approached Claire with a completed manuscript that had been through reading schemes and a few attempted rewrites, but was still missing something. During our first few months together, Claire set tasks that helped me to understand and confront the weaknesses of the novel. Our discussions have been both challenging and encouraging, and have helped me shape the novel into a much stronger piece of fiction. I am approaching my next rewrite with renewed passion for this project alongside a mentor who is pragmatic and inspiring. I feel very fortunate to have Claire’s support with this project, and highly recommend her services.
Kristin Pedroja, writing mentee January - September 2012
When Claire accepted me into her Mentoring programme at the start of the year, I was still suffering from lost confidence and a rawness of emotion about my draft manuscript. I knew instinctively I wanted to work with her, and over the last 5 months Claire's mentoring and compassion have helped me not only soothe the fears and rebuild my confidence but have also allowed me to rekindle my passion and enthusiasm for working on my children's novel. Claire has helped me reconnect with it in the way I most needed. From the first moments when I explained that I was open to constructive feedback as long as it was delivered gently, to the gentle but firm challenges of writing tasks that pushed me to develop, I could not recommend her more highly. All creatives need support from someone like Claire!
Sam Forsberg, writing mentee January - September 2012
I was at a cross roads and your advice and encouragement was enormously helpful. It feels like I've left a side road and am now zooming down the highway!