Previous Writer to Writer Mentees

Taylor Lauren Ross

Taylor Lauren Ross

Fall 2014 Session

Since receiving a BA in English from UCLA, Taylor Lauren Ross has written culture and lifestyle articles for Santa Barbara Magazine and Edible Santa Barbara, among others, and she is currently the managing editor of The Riding Light Review. Her short fiction has appeared in Foliate Oak, The Artificial Selection Project, and Westwind, and she also expresses her creativity by sculpting miniature creatures from polymer clay for her Etsy shop, ClayQuarry. Check out her website and follow her on Twitter @TaylorLaurenR.

Taylor worked with writer Brandi Granett.

What were your goals for the program?
I hoped to develop a connected relationship with an experienced, talented author and to grow myself as a writer. Within the program, I wished to develop my craft, learn about the publishing industry, and discover the next steps to building a life as a writer. I was also invested in exploring my identity and building my confidence as a YA/NA writer.

What advice do you have for people entering the program next?
Go in with an open mind, and be flexible. Dedicate yourself to the program. Know that your mentor can learn from you, too. Be honest. Ask questions.

What is something you learned from your mentor or this process?
My two favorite pieces of advice were: 1) find a job that doesn’t suck your soul, and 2) take the opportunity to travel and experience life. There is so much more to being a writer than writing. One of my favorite parts of this mentorship was our discussions of what it takes to build a life as a writer. How do you “make time” to develop your craft? How do you make a living, especially in a pricey city, and still write? The answers to these questions are different for every writer, and I’m still very much at the beginning of my journey, but I found my mentor’s guidance regarding “the writing life” to be incredibly valuable. I found her realistic and practical viewpoint motivational. That non-soul-sucking job, or combination of jobs, to accompany my writing is out there, and I just need to find it. As for travel and adventure, that’s not my default mode. I don’t like change, and I prefer habit and routine and being comfortable. But I know I learn and grow--and my writing grows too--when I put myself in challenging situations and try new experiences. I’m visiting my sister at a Buddhist center in France for two weeks over the holidays, and my mentor’s advice has encouraged me to be excited rather than scared. And I know I’ll find some wonderful story fodder on the trip.

What is something that happened that you did not expect?
I hoped I would find a mentor, that we would click immediately and connect on many levels, that I could explore and learn about how to balance writing and the other parts of my life. In this mentorship I found all of these things!

Where do you go from here?
This experience has given me renewed energy to work on my current novel project, write, and submit short stories to literary journals, and continue to build my life as a writer. I’m eager to share what I’ve learned with my writers group and the other editors at The Riding Light Review. I’m so happy to have built the foundation for a strong, mutually beneficial relationship with my mentor, and I’m very excited to continue working together and learning from her. I’m so grateful to my mentor for everything she’s so generously given me during this program, from her time to her critique to her advice, and of course I’m very thankful to the AWP for providing this opportunity! One day I’d love to be a mentor in the AWP Writer-to-Writer Program myself.

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