Mentorship will return in 2021
Get notified when this program returns----->
Apply by September 18th, 2020
The Ideal Applicant may be at any stage in the process of putting together a collection or drafting stories, but will have at least some stories already on the page. The ideal applicant will come to this mentorship program with the willingness and expectation to tackle substantial revision, on the micro-level (sentence structure, diction, punctuation) as well as the macro level (plot, voice, momentum, theme). Applicants should have a draft of one long story (5k words or longer) or several shorter stories or flash pieces.
The goal of the three-month mentorship is to have at least one long story (or 2-3 shorter stories or multiple flash pieces) finished and a plan for submitting to literary journals. At the end of the mentorship, each writer should also have developed a more distinct sense of their personal style and, hopefully, a clearer idea of how they would put together a collection.
This mentorship is not about writing a “perfect” story but discovering what you are trying to do as a writer, both within an individual story and in general, then working out how best you can accomplish your fictional vision. When a writer intensely sets their mind on creating short fiction, many questions can arise: How do I find the right voice and point of view for each story? How plotted do I want a story to feel? How much showing vs. telling should I engage in? How much formal experimentation? Similarly, when putting together a collection, concerns will arise of whether the stories should be linked by theme or recurring characters, whether the stories should share a consistent voice or tone, if they can diverge in length and form (long stories interspersed with flash, etc.), and more.
Together, we will discover the answers and methods that are right for you. Our work is meant to be a collaborative process, to encourage and motivate you as well as give you the freedom to try new things, explore new modes, without worrying too much about outcome or judgment. That said, interested applicants will understand that growth requires critique, consistent work, and eagerness to learn. Revision is key, learning to really see your work throughout the process with fresh eyes, with as much objectivity as possible. Because revision is so crucial, it’s possible you may spend the bulk of the mentorship on only one story (along with other exercises and your assigned reading).
How It Works:
Upon acceptance into the mentorship program, you will schedule an initial one-on-one call or Zoom session with Mary to discuss where you are at with drafting stories and your goals, allowing her to get a sense of your previous experience and attitude toward feedback. Together, you’ll create a work plan for the next three months.
You will then meet with Mary, by phone or Zoom, every two weeks until the end of the program. Prior to these meetings, you will be expected to send a process letter (1-3 pages) detailing the work you have accomplished as well as your successes and concerns for the month. Along with the letter, you will also submit up to 25 pages of fiction for direct feedback from Mary (which she will provide in the form of line edits as well as a formal letter). The number of pages due is flexible per meeting and will depend on the person; the specifics of this can be worked out in the initial conversation and as you go.
Regularly reading fiction as well as essays on the craft of writing is essential to improvement, so every two weeks Mary will supply you will reading tailored to your interests in needs in the form of assigned stories, criticism, essays, talks, interviews, etc. You may end up reading craft essays from Charles Baxter and Gary Lutz or Francine Prose or Jane Alison, deep diving into several suggested Paris Review interviews, or even investigating the work of filmmakers and visual artists for inspiration. You will then discuss these in your monthly session, in addition to your process letter and fiction submission. Mary will also be available to answer questions, talk through any issues or blocks you may be having, or provide advice via email at any time for the duration of the three-month mentorship. By the end, you and Mary will collaborate to put together a list of journals where you will send at least one polished story. If you are far enough along in the process of assembling collection that you plan to soon reach out to agents, Mary is also willing to help you brainstorm how best to position your collection and assist you in drafting a query letter.
The Three-Month Mentorship Consists of the Following:
- One-on-one initial consultation via phone or Zoom to discuss your experience, specific needs, and aspirations
- Access to mentor via email for three months
- Monthly meeting between mentor and mentee via phone or Zoom to discuss latest submission and progress
- Line edits (via Microsoft Word) and formal letter on submitted stories
- Monthly assignments (stories/craft essays/art/films/etc.) tailored to your individual needs and interests
- Plan for submitting at least one story (and possibly more) to literary journals; plan for querying agents, should the writer be at that stage of revising a collection
Mentor’s Monthly Input:
- Phone or Zoom conversations to discuss progress and submission
- Line edits and formal letter on stories
- Based on each month’s discussion, pages, and progress letter, mentor will assign new material (stories, essays, interviews, films, etc.) to aid in growth
- Available to answer questions/provide support at any time via email
Mentee’s Monthly Responsibilities:
- Send up to 25 pages every two weeks to mentor for commentary and discussion
- Progress letter reflecting on successes, concerns, and goals
- Read/listen/watch assigned ancillary materials
- Participate in email conversations about progress
"The mentoring program with Mary South exceeded my expectations by far. As a mid-career writer, she provided me with the necessary tools to hone my craft. It was a blessing to have her line edit my edit and provide me with constructive criticisms. Mary challenged me to find thematic possibilities for each of my stories. I highly recommend this mentorship and plan to register again as soon as I write more stories for a collection." -Elise A.
"It's been a great experience. Really glad I did it. Mary and I worked pretty hard on two stories that are out for submission right now, and two others near the end that I can go ahead and rewrite and get ready for the Spring. Then she helped me plan a collection, or a plan to complete a collection, which was really helpful. She's a sharp reader of my work and after having not written fiction in ten years, it's been really rewarding." -Peter S.
"This mentorship has been invaluable and Mary is a fantastic mentor and teacher. This was truly such a special, singular experience. I know I have grown as a writer in just three short months. I hope you continue to offer this for others. I do feel as though I've tapped into a bit of a community." Leyla S.
"Highly enjoyed and recommend Mary's mentorship program. Really inspiring. It felt like a mini MFA in three months!" -Amanda L.
Full Tuition for the 3-month program is $1,900. Accepted writers must commit to the full three months and meet all assigned deadlines. You can pay the tuition in full or opt for equal monthly payments by selecting Affirm at checkout. If you decide to create a monthly payment plan using Affirm, you can do so once you add "Full Tuition" to your cart, enter your contact information, and are on the payment page.
Additional Program Information:
Tuition is $1,900
Class size limited to 10 writers
Program Starts September 21, 2020
The Mentorship is fully online and students may participate from anywhere.
NOTE: Shifting some dates around may be necessary but any changes will be communicated well in advance, if possible.
Contact us HERE if you have any questions about this program.
Mentor Mary South is the author of the debut short story collection, You Will Never Be Forgotten, published in March 2020 by FSG Originals. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, American Short Fiction, Conjunctions, BOMB, NOON, Guernica, LARB Quarterly, The Offing, and The White Review, among others. She has taught writing at Catapult and Columbia University.