Want to hear about the impact of the Alistair MacLeod Mentorship Program first-hand? Carmel Mikol (host of the Hyacinth Podcast) interviews two 2016 participants, authors Carol Bruneau (mentor) and Nicola Davison (apprentice), about the benefits of the program and how it helped them write two award-winning novels. Watch the interview >>
The Alistair MacLeod Mentorship Program was made possible by the late Alistair MacLeod, who generously donated a portion of his 2001 Portia White Prize to the Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia to ensure the continuation of its mentorship pilot program. Alistair MacLeod's passing on April 20, 2014, was mourned by the Atlantic literary community, but his books, his teaching, his steadfast friendship, and his commitment to his home province remain for us to lean on and grow from.
Since 2001, the Alistair MacLeod Mentorship Program has supported the development of emerging writers in Nova Scotia who are on the cusp of professional publication and who are committed to their writing and creative development. This is not an introductory creative writing course; it is a disciplined, focused, and supportive one-on-one apprenticeship program through which writers expand and hone their craft.
The program pairs professionally published writers with emerging writers, taking care through a peer-assessment process to match established writers' experience and craft with emerging writers' project goals and draft manuscripts. Writers from across Nova Scotia — with projects in all forms and genres of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry — are welcome to apply. (The WFNS does not offer mentorships for picture book or graphic novel authors at this time.) The application period for the 2020 program closed on October 25, 2019.
The program helps emerging writers overcome barriers to their growth and development, provides professional writers with an opportunity to refine their mentoring and instructional skills, and reaffirms the creative conviction of everyone involved. In so doing, the program helps fulfil WFNS's mission to foster creative writing and the profession of writing; to provide advice and assistance to writers at all stages of their careers; to encourage greater public recognition of writers and their achievements; and to enhance the literary arts in our regional and national culture.
How Does The Program Work?
Mentors and apprentice writers will work together over a five-month period, beginning in January. While maintaining flexibility to allow for sometimes complicated schedules, mentors and apprentice writers will meet approximately every two weeks (or for 8 - 10 sessions), either in person or (if no geographically convenient match is possible) via video conference, with follow-up exchanges conducted via email.
In addition, mentors and apprentice writers participate in two mandatory group meetings, one in early December (to review program details and build a supportive writing group that is ready to begin work in January) and another in early March (to check-in at roughly the mid-point of the program and share individual challenges and successes with the group). A mandatory public reading, to be held as part of the annual WFNS Celebration of Emerging Writers, concludes the program in early June. The WFNS promotes this reading and the mentorship participants widely in order to encourage public engagement with new writers and showcase the role of the mentorship program in building capacity in Nova Scotia's writing community.
The WFNS provides an honorarium to each mentor. There is no cost to apprentice writers beyond WFNS membership dues, the mentorship program application fee, and any necessary travel costs to attend in-person meetings or the public reading — but the benefit of working with a professional writer for a sustained period provides value long after the program has ended.
The Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia is grateful to the Canada Council for the Arts for its ongoing funding of the Alistair MacLeod Mentorship Program, as well as to the RBC Emerging Artists Project for its recurring sponsorship of the program.