Gandalf, Samwise, and Where to Find Them

Enjoy this guest post from Hannah Prewett, aspiring author and artist extraordinaire, as she shares a little about her writing journey and those who have walked beside her:

Sometimes, the writing life is full of sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns. That moment you finish writing the book that’s been burning inside of you. The day you publish that blog post that sings. The week you keep up with all your social media like you’re “supposed to.”

But often, I feel a bit like Frodo carrying the One Ring to Mordor. That time I get yet another rejection from an agent or editor. The never-ending cycle of edits and rewrites that steal my joy. The weeks I completely miss blogging and social media. The days I’m tormented by self-doubt.

Thankfully, I won’t have to throw my “precious” creation into a stream of molten lava as my road to publication reaches an end. One day, I will hold a book in my hands that I created (and then the real adventure will begin). Still, it’s hard to keep that goal in mind on the days when waves of doubt and discouragement threaten to pull me under. Much like Frodo, I’m overwhelmed by the burden.

We all know Frodo wouldn’t have made it through his journey without the counsel and wisdom of his guide and mentor, Gandalf, and without the unconditional love and support of his friend, Samwise Gamgee. In much the same way, it’s vital that we surround ourselves with mentors and friends who will keep us going when we want to quit.

Lord of the Rings illustration.jpg

Finding my Gandalfs

When I first started this writing journey years ago, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I wasn’t naïve enough to think I’d write the perfect novel, have it accepted for publication right away, and instantly become a New York Times bestseller, but I still had some pretty unrealistic expectations.

I think we’d all agree that writing a book is not a simple process. We need someone who has “been there, done that” to walk us through it, especially when we run into unexpected obstacles.

My first writing mentor was a local author who agreed to be my writing coach. Through her giving spirit and professional advice, she helped me grow through the early stages of my writing. One of the biggest gifts she gave me was the realization that there was no one right way to write a novel. I always wrote out of order as scenes came to me, which wasn’t the way I was “supposed” to write. Then I found out that was how she wrote, too. It was so freeing.

Through a local writing group my writing coach co-founded, I discovered other writing mentors:

An author of Sunday School curriculum who took me under her wing and gave me encouragement and advice.

An author of cozy mysteries who was my biggest cheerleader from the beginning. Her tough but essential edit right before my first writer’s conference landed me my first request for a manuscript from an agent.

A talented, self-published suspense author, who read through far more drafts of my book than he’d probably care to mention, and gave me vital critiques that helped mold my book into what it has become today.

Each of these writers had experience they were only too happy to share. I am so thankful for the influence they had and still have on me to this day, and the ways their wisdom forced me to stretch and grow.

My other Gandalf was a gifted speaker who taught me both years I attended the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. Sweet and humble in personality, she had a vast wealth of knowledge to share, especially on world-building and deep viewpoint. I grew immensely as a writer just by attending her classes. More than that, she became a good friend. We’ve stayed in contact, and when I hired her to edit my book, I was grateful for her advice and insight.

Finding my Samwises

My mentors all became my friends, and I’m so thankful for each one of them. Yet, sometimes you need the friendship of someone who’s in the same spot you are, facing the same struggles. Having someone who understands your strengths and weaknesses, who encourages you to keep going when you want to give up, makes all the difference.

While I’ve been blessed with many writing friends, there are two who have been especially encouraging to me. One, a wife and mom of two in the process of self-publishing her first YA book, forces me to dig deeper, think harder, and look at my characters from a different perspective. And the other, a young writer of high fantasy, always knows how to cheer me up with her gentle encouragement.

Some of my fondest memories are of going up to a cabin together, just the three of us. We hash out problematic plot points, brainstorm, and revel in uninterrupted typing time.
When I have exciting writing news, they are two of the first people I text. When I get yet another rejection, I know they understand my need for a day or two to grieve. They’re happy to pray with me over anything I’m struggling with. They’re also not afraid to be honest with me when I need a good kick in the pants. Like Sam, they don’t let me give up when I feel I have nothing left.

Finding Your Gandalf and Samwise

I realize I’ve been incredibly blessed in the opportunities that have come my way. You may not have a writing coach or a local group of authors who get together, but that doesn’t mean you have to go without a Gandalf or a Samwise.

If there’s no one local, try going online. Look up writer’s forums or Facebook groups. Join the ACFW or other writing agencies. Read blogs by other writers and interact with them in the comments. Sometimes, the connections we make online can turn into lifelong friendships.

Another great way to meet other writers is by attending a writing conference. Conferences are a big investment. I get it, believe me. It’s always a sacrifice to find the money each year, but I’ve never regretted making that investment. Not only do you learn and grow as a writer, you make incredible connections with writers, agents, and editors that aren’t possible otherwise. Many of my writing friends and acquaintances are people I never would have met without attending conferences.

No matter how you find your Gandalf or Samwise, the important thing is that you find them. It’s always better to share this journey with someone else than to try and get that ring to Mordor alone. The victory will be even sweeter when you can share it with those who have been with you every step of the way.

Hannah Prewett is a wife, mom of three, blogger, artist, follower of Christ, and dreamer. She is also a Disney nerd, a lover of all things Jane Austen, and a musical geek. Her favorite stores are toy stores and most of her favorite movies are animated…or movies where characters spontaneously burst into song and dance. She still searches her closets for Narnia and is convinced that fairy tales might just be real.

You can connect with her on FacebookInstagram, or her website


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