8 Reasons All Of My Favorite Mentors Are Dead

For normal people, a mentor is someone who they engage with periodically for insights on life, goals, and personal values. But for us introverted writers, I’d like to argue that our mentors don’t always have to be alive. And no, I’m not talking about zombies.

For example, I have had a great writing mentor since I was in Highschool in the late 90’s – he encourages, he inspires, he challenges. His name is Ralph Waldo Emerson, and he’s been dead for 140 years.

Here are a few reasons why all you writers out there should invoke the literary spirits of your own dead mentors…. or maybe, this Halloween, your dead mentor will find you.


Eight reasons why an author from the past may do more to energize your writing than any of today’s hip young marvels.

  1. Dead Mentors Help you See Beyond the buzz. They speak from the heart, and their works and ideas have lasted through the years, decades, maybe even centuries in some cases.
  2. Dead mentors are recession-proof. No need to spend money on writing classes and training. They aren’t going to spam you with free pdf downloads, but only when you subscribe to their weekly newsletters. Their lessons are there, in print, and easily accessible. In fact, there are quite a few resources that you can use to find previously published content, such as the internet archive, Gutenberg, and government archives as well. Hell, even some Universities share royalty-free content. If you have a library card, you can download free ebooks and even audiobooks from your favorite authors.
  3. Dead mentors help you help yourself: Erica Wagner, literary editor of “The Times,” does just that with her own dead mentor, Washington Augustus Roebling. “He once said that ‘[y]ou can’t get out of the work-life lays on you,’ and that’s something I think of often,” says Wagner, who has most recently authored the novel “Seizure.” “If I am struggling, if I feel like giving up on something – whether it is my writing or something in my life – I think of Washington and what advice he would give me. ‘Keep trying,’ he’d probably say. ‘You will find a way. Look clearly at your situation and work towards a solution.’”
  4. Dead mentors help you to become a better reader: Living mentorship often takes place in the form of phone calls, emails, coffee dates, and time-consuming writing classes. Save your time and kill two birds with one stone. Looking to your dead mentor for advice means that, nine times out of ten, you’ll be reading. Whether it’s your dead mentor’s novels, poems, letters, diaries, or biographies, “interacting” with literary ghosts accomplishes two goals: you get your advice while honing your close reading skills – which, according to Oates, will make you a better writer.
  5. You don’t have To worry about appointment times and awkward social interactions: Dead mentors are the best. I am never disillusioned by them. I don’t have to visit their house one night, full of joy from a recent writing success, only to find them passed out drunk on the sofa. There’s a lot to be said about that.
  6. A mentor will inspire you. name some favorite poets that move you.
  7. A mentor helps you find your voice
  8. Having a mentor can help you heal pains.

“The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable.”

Kurt Vonnegut

Phantom World by A.R. Braun

There are elements of Clive Barker in the telling of these 8 macabre tales, with brutal frankness, and anger at the unjust nature of life, death, and a capricious god. The tales, like the judgments within, pass quickly and savagely. They are easy to read but linger afterward. An enjoyable collection for fans of the nastier side of horror.”

Purchase as a paperback on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

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