“Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.”
— John Crosby
The SprinNG 2020 fellowship sparked a different flame this year. Out of 536 applications, 50 mentees were selected for the 4th cohort divided into the SprinNG Writing Fellowship (SWF) and the SprinNG Advancement Fellowship (SAF). Of the 50 participants, 48 completed the program requirements and graduated.
Simultaneously, we hosted a record-breaking number of mentors. 46 writers, some of whom are published authors, award winners, and more, volunteered to serve as mentors in the fellowship, which held for 4 to 6 weeks.
Facts and figures by the 48 mentees who completed the fellowship:
All agreed that
97.9% (47 mentees) identified that the fellowship improved their confidence and provided a sense of direction to their creative writing pursuits.
97.9% (47 mentees) said they would re-apply to be SprinNG fellows in a different category.
95.8% (46 mentees) found the contest as a motivating factor to their fellowship experience.
93.8% (45 mentees) found the group chat useful in conversing and networking with other mentees.
Fellowship completion timeline:
“To be a mentor and an effective one, one must care. You must care. You don’t have to know how many square miles are in Idaho, you don’t need to know what is the chemical makeup of chemistry, or blood or water. Know what you know, and care about the person, care about what you know and care about the person you’re sharing with.”
— Maya Angelou
When we asked the mentees to describe their mentor's qualities, they used the following words:
Teacher, courteous, knowledgeable, precise, wise, diligent, dedicated, committed, excited, genuine, patient, supportive, thoughtful, brilliant, polymath, detailed, kind, honest, attentive to details, productively busy, willing, a good reader, and a “badass” critic.
When we asked the mentees to describe their areas of improvement during the fellowship, they highlighted the following:
Use of diction
Use of symbols and punctuation
Self-esteem and discovery
Notably, a mentee wrote:
I realized how important constantly re-reading and editing one’s work could be. Before, I would just write and edit once. But now, the story comes out better when I read it countless times and keep adding or removing things. Consistency is key. You can't get better at what you do if you don't do it over and over again.
I started writing more during this fellowship. I made a mental note to write at least a few sentences each day and to read as much as I write. I realized that I have to read both the works I love and the ones I don't appreciate, there's always something to learn or a new perspective to gain.
Also, thanks to the SprinNG fellowship and my good mentor, I had to relearn the use of literary devices which I had forgotten. Michael introduced this to me during the poetry week, and I learned to apply it to every other work I do. First, you have to get the story out, then you work on what's missing, and that's when I think of the literary devices to employ.
Furthermore, I particularly learned this from the SprinNG manual - finding an audience is key. I used to want everyone to love and appreciate my work, but I realize now that's not how things work. Everyone cannot enjoy your work, there will be people who the work is specifically meant for, and they are the ones writers should be concerned about.
Finally, there are so many things that have improved about me both personally and professionally as a writer. My confidence has improved, interacting with some of the cohort’s mentees and observing the conversations in the group; I am no longer afraid of holding or writing my truth. I've decided to write shamelessly but also in a way that I will be able to defend my work. I learned that not everyone would understand your work, but you still have to do it anyway. The fellowship has made me want to be better, to want more for myself, and I will strive to do that.
Many mentors applauded the growth of the fellowship from what it was initially. They also highlighted areas of improvement that the SprinNG team will work on in the upcoming months. We are grateful for the services of all the mentors.
“What I think the mentor gets is the great satisfaction of helping somebody along, helping somebody take advantage of an opportunity that maybe he or she did not have.”
— Clint Eastwood
This fellowship has grounded us well in identifying what’s truly working when it comes to mentoring developing writers in Nigeria. Next year, with the right effort, we hope to expand the fellowship’s eligibility to include other select African countries. We will also include more professional development activities to help our writers become well-rounded.
List of Graduating Mentees
Class of 2020 - Congratulations on this milestone!
“Real courage is holding on to a still voice in your head that says, ‘I must keep going.’ It’s that voice that says nothing is a failure if it is not final. That voice that says to you, ‘Get out of bed. Keep going. I will not quit.’” —Cory Booker
List of 2020 Mentors
We thank you for participating in this opportunity of service to improve and revitalize Nigerian literature through mentorship!