One way a writer can improve his odds of traditional publication is having an established writer as a mentor. Writing groups can also encourage and mentor. Let me share an example of the influence a mentor.
In 1919 a young veteran returned from World War I. He moved to Chicago moving into a certain neighborhood for the purpose of being close to the author Sherwood Anderson.
The young beginning writer liked the critical praise for Anderson and his book Winesburg, Ohio. He had heard that Sherwood Anderson was willing to help aspiring writers. He worked to met Anderson. The two men became close friends. They met almost every day to read newspapers, magazines, and novels. They dissected the writings they read.
The aspiring writer brought his own works for critique having Anderson help him improve his craft. Anderson went as far as introducing the want-to-be writer to his network of publishing contacts. The aspiring writer did okay with his first book The Sun Also Rises. The aspiring writer was Ernest Hemingway.
Sherwood Anderson didn’t stop there. He moved to New Orleans where he met another aspiring writer. He took the young man through the same steps and paces of the craft. They shared an apartment. He even invested $300 in getting this writer’s first book Soldier’s Pay published. This young author was William Faulkner. Faulkner’s teacher was the encouragement of learning from how others crafted their work.
Anderson would later move to California and repeat the process with John Steinbeck. Thomas Wolfe and Erskine Caldwell were also mentored by Sherwood Anderson. Ray Bradbury says Winesburg, Ohio was on his mind when he wrote The Martin Chronicles. He basically wrote Winesburg, Ohio placing it on the planet Mars.
Only Mark Twain has had a greater influence in shaping modern American writing than Sherwood Anderson. Anderson didn’t do too badly, did he? William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck each won the Nobel Prize for Literature and there are multiple Pulitzer Prizes between them.
If you are serious about writing find a mentor or join a writing group. My writer’s group and critique group keep me motivated. My writer’s group and group’s member are the best thing that happened to me in 2012.