Sunday, September 02, 2007

Non-existent "mentoring" in USA --

Shadows of My Clothes - Copyright Kyi May Kaung

  • Here is my reply to an organization which was querying me about mentoring experiences in play writing.

  • Read: Mentoring in Creative Writing.

  • I have never been mentored in play writing and taught myself to write a play by writing it. Shaman was a Pew finalist script and praised by Edward Albee. I have considered taking a play writing course but it was withdrawn at the time it was convenient for me to take it. Not enough people registered.

    I don't mind answering your questionaire.

    In general I think the writing community, if there is such a thing in America, is very closed and only "interested in its own thing." We all get to thinking we may do better striking out alone. Often it is necessary to focus (on ourselves) to survive.

    As someone who is mainly interested in writing in different genres, I think the current trend towards specialization is very damaging, creating in-groups which an outsider cannot easily enter. One must be a card carrying something or the other, or one can't "enter."

    As Peters and Waterman said in In Search of Excellence, "groups are groupy."

    Therefore I don't wish to say I envision a career in play writing -- one cannot envision anything unless a small measure of encouragement comes from somewhere, like it came for me via a small note from Albee.

    The only place I can say where I was mentored was in a few writing classes, but most effectively, when I was a teenager in Burma by Burmese writer "K" -- U Khin Zaw, who was a musician and a writer and wrote in English.

    I am very sorry to sound negative, but American competitiveness, and may I say "essential selfishness," (everything is in classes and for money,) breeds neither good mentors nor good mentored persons.

    "K", my father U Kaung, my father's mentor Gordon H. Luce (a member of the Bloomsbury Group,) my cousin Min Shin all mentored me better than anything I received in America, with the exception of a few friends, a few classes, of intellectual freedom and safety to write what I wish, and of course, bookstores and museums.

    People just don't have time to mentor or be friends; a first reader for a novel etc. I've had people lose my scripts (twice), lose my tapes, act cavalier about my intellectual property.

    Some actively tried to sabotage my writing.

    They outweigh the few who helped or tried to help, but could only do so to a certain extent.

    So I wish your organization the greatest luck in your endeavor.

Might I also say the minorities need mentoring the most, especially the most minor of the minorities, where there is no critical mass that might make numbers count.

Copyright Kyi May Kaung