A good creative mentor is one whose wisdom and guidance carries you forward as you hone your craft and build your career. Just ask Carolyn Boll, a 2014 graduate of Humber’s Creative Writing – Fiction, Creative Non-Fiction, Poetry program. We caught up with Carolyn via email to hear more about her new book and the experience of working with Humber Writers mentor Karen Connelly.
Tell us about your book. How did it come about?
Social Dance: A Book of Ballroom Poetry developed very gradually. So gradually, in fact, that some of these poems were written a good twenty years ago. And through a process of writing along the way, putting the first version away in a drawer for about two years, and then one day pulling it out and understanding that the title needed to change, that there had to be images, and the whole order of the book had to be reimagined, I eventually came to the book as it exists now. And then the amazing Mary Meriam at the lesbian indie publisher, Headmistress Press, who had actually given me a very generous critique of the first version, later asked me what I had been up to lately. I sent her this version, and it is, I am delighted to say, the first book in their new specialty books imprint, Sally Jane Books.
How did you find the experience of working with your writing mentor? What insight into your writing did you gain through the mentorship process?
Well, though this is in fact a different book than the one I worked on with my mentor Karen Connelly, Social Dance is definitely the direct result of my time working with Karen. The intimacy of the mentorship process helped me to develop and deepen my devotion to the writing life – and to respect and honour it with the daily commitment of returning, each and every day, to the work we were doing together. Her guidance in terms of the craft was invaluable, and added to that was her clarity about the process of becoming a published writer. Working with her affirmed in me what I had only dared to dream about, and in the process, I became a writer dedicated to removing my work from the drawer and sending it out into the world.
And of course, now that Social Dance is out, I can get back to my other book – the one I worked on with Karen. I am so looking forward to digging deeper, mining its riches, and keeping going—because this is after all what I love to do.