Camryn Mackiewich started writing her book, Phoenix Rising, when she was nine-years-old. She was still working on it when she turned 14 earlier this year. The book had evolved over those five years, but now she and it felt stuck.
“In order to move forward with the book, I needed help,” said Mackiewich.
Enter the marvel of mentorship, and one of the reasons Mackiewich likes being a part of the Vernon Community School. She explains: “VCS offers unique experiences that school doesn’t usually offer, like getting help editing my book.”
Mackiewich went to Murray Sasges—one of the founding teachers of VCS and a 2018 winner of the Premier’s Award for Excellence in Education—for assistance in finding a mentor. Sasges called Janice Love, who had already been a mentor in editing for recent VCS graduate, Cole MacKay. Love, a professional freelance editor, was available and happy to help Mackiewich get her book unstuck.
“Camryn is a delight to work with,” says Love. “She’s keen to learn how to improve her writing, communicates promptly, and is patient when there are delays. And we’ve figured out she’s actually written two books, not just one! Mentoring is fun and really satisfying.”
When asked what she’s learned about editing and writing from the mentorship so far, Mackiewich talks about how the editing’s focus on the reader’s point of view reveals what is working well and what is unclear or confusing, and that “you don’t just go over your book once, but many, many times.”
She’s learned that using fewer words can sometimes add more meaning, that the rules she gets to make up as the writer have to be followed, and that it’s helpful to have even more background for her story than what she will use. Also, that taking breaks from writing helps her see her story with new eyes when she returns to it.
Mentorships are an important part of the learning that happens at VCS, and have included everything from singing to sewing, film making, video editing, car mechanics, engineering.
It’s writing though that has captured Mackiewich.
“I’m not getting away from this,” she says, smiling.