In 1919 a young man, recovering from injuries suffered in World War I, rented a small apartment in Chicago. He chose the location to be near the home of a man named Sherwood Anderson. An author, Anderson had written the popular novel Winesboro, Ohio, and he was known to be willing to share his wisdom with young writers.
The two men spent time together nearly every day. They shared meals, took long walks, and discussed writing late into the night. The young man wrote passages and asked Anderson to critique them, which the novelist did with brutal honesty. The young man didn’t defend himself or his writing because, as he said later, “I didn’t know how to write until I learned from Sherwood.”
Within two years, the young man set off to write on his own. In 1926 he published his first novel, The Sun Also Rises, which was met with critical acclaim. His name was Ernest Hemingway – one of the greatest American writers of his generation.
But the story doesn’t end there. Sherwood Anderson also mentored William Faulkner, Thomas Wolfe, William Saroyan, and John Steinbeck. Three of Anderson’s proteges earned Nobel Prizes; four won Pulitzer Prizes.
Why did Sherwood Anderson help aspiring new writers? Perhaps because he himself had been mentored by the famed authors, Theodore Dreiser and Carl Sandburg.
In like manner, the Old Testament prophet Elisha was mentored by Elijah. In the New Testament, Timothy was mentored by Paul. I suggest that each of us needs a Paul (mentor) and a Timothy (mentee) in our lives.
What about you?