“Jonathan is the ideal worker, leader and colleague—affable, brilliant, hilarious, fair, focused and driven. I urge you in the strongest possible terms: Please hire Jonathan Ball!”
Filmmaker/Author/Artist, Visiting Lecturer at Harvard University, Member of the Order of Canada
If you are a writer, or if being a writer is your ambition, then you may need a mentor. At best, a mentor helps you succeed where you might otherwise fail. Minimally, a mentor can help you make progress faster. Sometimes, what you need most is somebody to turn to, either simply for advice or to give you a structured plan to succeed in your goals.
I offer paid mentorship for specific, structured, intense work towards your writing goals. I’ve mentored numerous writers through the Manitoba Writers’ Guild, including Keith Cadieux, who just recently edited the outstanding horror anthology The Shadow Over Portage and Main, and David Yerex Williamson (who, as I was writing this, just posted to Facebook that he won first prize in a poetry contest with a poem I helped him revise).
I know it sounds strange, but I can help you make more money. Pay me to make you money? How does that work? Here’s how it works:
You hire me to consult with you and help you write something that makes you money — for example, a cover letter or resume for a job, a grant application, a scholarship application, your application to medical school or some other graduate program, a book proposal you will send to a publisher, a query letter you will send to an agent, etc.
I can’t guarantee that my magic touch will transform your life. However, please ask yourself this question: How important is that cover letter? Do you feel confident in your grant application? Wouldn’t it help to have a trained pair of eyes and hands go over that book proposal? (And so on…)
Just to use the example of the grant application: Have you ever submitted one? If not, why not? Do you need guidance? Wouldn’t it be worth a few hundred dollars to make a few thousand dollars? Maybe tens of thousands?
Let’s look at the worst-case scenario, where you end up with a solid grant application but do not succeed in the grant competition. Well, you can take that same application, modify it slightly, and resubmit it to the next deadline. You can take what you learned about writing grant applications and move forward more confident in your grant-writing skills.
I have received over $100,000 in grants, awards, and scholarships over my career, to directly support my writing — all the way from winning small poetry contests to receiving a SSHRC doctoral fellowship to support work on a novel, with provincial book awards and various arts grants in-between. (In the time between when I wrote and edited this paragraph, I received a further $20,000 of grant funding.)
I used to work part-time at the University of Manitoba helping Education professors secure and administrate six-figure research grants. I used to run a literary journal (dANDelion), and I founded another (The Maelstrom). I offer regular consultation about proposal letters to University of Manitoba medical students applying into specialist programs.
I can help you make more money. I can help you get that grant or scholarship. I can help you get that job or get into that school. I can help you have your book accepted.
The best investment is a plan. Before you wade into the depths of your novel, your screenplay, or any large project, you want to develop it as far as possible. Maybe you need to craft a treatment to help sell your screenplay. Maybe you need a book proposal to help pitch your project to a publisher. Maybe you just want to outline your story before you start writing.
Many writers neglect the planning stages. They say they are “pantsers,” by which they mean they proceed without a plan. They talk about “zero drafts.” My philosophy is that you should make a plan and produce a first draft, so that you can be efficient with your time and avoid incredible amounts of unnecessary work.
When you have a clear grasp on your story, and really take the time to develop it, a few things happen:
Maybe you need some fresh eyes on your story, a “story doctor” as it were — somebody who can help you identify and fix problems. Maybe you need help developing your story, moving it towards reality. Maybe you are stuck in the “desert of the second act.” Maybe you have a good idea but cannot figure out how to turn it into a story.
I can help you develop your story. Your novel, your screenplay, your comic book, your memoir. I can help you give it shape, give it strength. I can put my finger on that “something” you sense is wrong, but can’t quite figure out.
Do you need an editor? I’m an incredibly analytical writer, and an efficient and thorough editor. I hold a PhD in English literature (with specialization in Canadian Literature/Creative Writing), which shows you how focused and analytical I can be when it comes to writing. I’m not one of those writers/editors who works by instinct. I’m methodical.
In addition to basic copyediting, at which I am proficient, I specialize in more complex editing. Whether you need simple line editing and stylistic polishing, or deep analysis and evaluation of a manuscript with a structured plan for substantial revision, I have decades of experience.
In addition to authoring five of my own books, I founded a literary journal (The Maelstrom), was a newspaper section editor at The Manitoban, created a literary supplement for that same newspaper and also created a film/video section for the magazine Filling Station, and edited and managed the literary journal dANDelion.
I’ve edited a whole host of differing manuscripts, from children’s books written by children to radical, experimental poetry to academic essays and theses.
I can edit anything. I will make your work better, and the best part is that you get to take all the credit.
Do you need a writer? I’m not just a writer. I’m the writer. As a writer, I have published five books, won numerous awards (including three Manitoba Book Awards, one for being the province’s “Most Promising Writer”), and published thousands of articles, reviews, columns, interviews, short stories, and poems over the past two decades. I’ve written and directed short films, including one that was sold to The Comedy Network, and written independent feature film scripts. I hold a PhD in English with a creative writing focus.
I’ve written almost everything, from humorous haiku horoscopes to encyclopedia entries. I’ve written for newspapers, magazines, literary journals, academic publishers, Canada’s former poet laureate Fred Wah (who needed some classroom materials for a national poetry project), and internationally renowned filmmaker/author/artist Guy Maddin (who needed some promotional materials for a film release).
I can write anything, for anyone.