Taking part in a mentor program is a wonderful opportunity to “up your game” by working intensively with a publishing professional. Today we’re going to introduce Anjali Morard, a writer from France, and get to know a bit about her work and why she chose to apply for a mentorship with Ann Bonwill.
I’ve been writing for many years, that is, if you count scientific writing. I only got into more creative writing in the last few years, and it was because of my two preschool-aged children, so I’m writing picture books, mostly fiction.
They like it when my husband and I make up personalized stories for them. Although they often want to cram in way too many characters (two horses, a crocodile, a lion, the moon, a pony, a pirate…), I realized I was having a great time coming up with stories for them, so I started writing down the ones that worked. I haven’t told any in awhile because, at bedtime, my husband is currently on chapter I-don’t-know-how-many of a saga involving a sea monster, a dragon, a bear, and a gnome dynasty, but I’m hoping to get back on the storytelling schedule soon.
What a fun tradition! Where do you like to write? What does a typical writing session look like for you?
I love coffee shops. The buzz of people, occasional but brief distractions/eavesdropping, and of course, the coffee on demand without any cleanup to interrupt any productivity I’ve managed to find. When I can’t get out of the house, I often end up at my kitchen table. It’s almost maddening; I got myself a nice fancy desk in a corner by a window, but I keep ending up back in the kitchen!
I have absolutely no structure to writing sessions. If I try to force something, I end up getting nowhere. I just have to see how my brain is working that day, and either I end up writing an entire story in 15 minutes, or I discover some new wall art to put up behind the desk where I never sit.
Coffee is the alpha and omega to so many stories. Can you tell us about the story you submitted to the mentorship program and the reason why you thought a mentor would be able to help you?
My story is about a bunny who wants nothing more than to ride a bicycle. She’s told she is not allowed to, so then she has to think a bit outside the box to accomplish this task. I’ve had this story written for a long time and I’ve been stuck. I think it’s good, but it needs a bit of tweaking, and I’m sure an objective reader who has picture book successes will be very helpful for that. And, of course, I will be very happy to have guidance in exploring the next steps.
I’m sure children will be able to relate to being told they can’t do something. What attracted you working with Ann? What was it about her that made you think ‘that’s the mentor for me’?
Ann was already an obvious choice as she specializes in writing picture books, but we also share some similarities in our backgrounds, for example studying psychology and autism before being called to express some more creativity and return to writing (or discover it, in my case). I feel like that similarity might give her some more insight into the best way to nudge me in different directions and help me overcome my self-imposed mental barriers. As a bonus, from the very little I know of her, she seems like someone I would happily befriend.
And finally, what do you expect to achieve by the end of this mentorship?
Of course the dream is to be published! By the end of the mentorship I’m hoping to be closer to getting my work out there for actual, real people to read. I have published many scientific articles, and each one has been read by…maybe 8 people on average. It gets discouraging after awhile. It’s not that I want fame and recognition necessarily (though it would be nice) but I’d like the feeling that I’m contributing to the world in a way and sharing some of the best of myself.
One of my main weaknesses is aiming for perfection. And never getting there, clearly. It can be a good weakness to have in writing – you need to edit and edit and re-edit until it’s nothing like the first draft, but at some point you need to stop. Maybe Ann can help me figure out what point that is!
Sounds like you have your work cut out for you the next six months! Thank you for joining us, Anjali! We wish you lots of luck on your new adventure and we’ll check in with you again next Spring.
Interviewed by Patti Buff
A native Minnesotan, she moved to Germany in 2001 where she currently lives in disgustingly beautiful Bavaria with her husband and two teenagers.
She is represented by Hannah Sheppard of DHH Literary and is currently writing an adult crime series.