Lee has been mentoring many published and unpublished writers working in the genres of fiction, and memoir and other sub-genres of creative non-fiction for the last 8 years through Writers Victoria, Australian Society of Authors and privately. A considerable number of writers she mentored went on publishing books with mainstream publishers. Recent examples of these books include: Cher Chidzey’s Ken’s Quest (Three Kookaburras, 2016), Halina Rubin’s Journeys with my Mother (Hybrid Publishers, 2015) and Maria Katsonis’s The Good Greek Girl (Ventura Press, 2015).
Lee spoke publicly and wrote about her work as a mentor on numerous occasions, and she organised a training session for Writers Victoria manuscript assessors. Although she is based in Melbourne, thanks to the miracles of modern technology Lee mentors writers from all around Australia. She particularly loves working with budding projects but also has a lot of experience helping writers whose manuscripts are at an advanced stage. If you are interested in working with her, please send your enquiry via firstname.lastname@example.org
Testimonies from writers I have mentored
Lee mentored me over a three year period while I worked on my first book, Life to us all. Her wise counsel and guidance immeasurably enriched the manuscript and my craft as a writer. Lee’s steadfast support and encouragement helped me overcome several bumpy writing periods when I came close to walking away from the book. Lee respects the writer’s vision while providing constructive advice to ensure the vision is realised and the work reaches its full potential. Her judgement is astute and her insightful feedback is always tactfully delivered. Lee approaches the mentoring relationship with sensitivity, grace and style. It is a joy to work with her.
Maria Katsonis is a writer and public policy adviser. Her writing has been published in The Age, The Guardian and New Paradigm. Her memoir, The Good Greek Girl, is out in April 2015 with Jane Curry Publishing. More details about Maria.
My first attempt at writing my travel memoir Men on the Menu was a dismal failure, so I sought the help of Writers Victoria, who in turn put me in touch with Lee Kofman, who acted as a mentor and editor. The results speak for themselves – I now have a two-book publishing deal, and The Five Mile Press are keen for more. Without Lee’s help I sincerely believe I never would have got this far, but Lee ‘unleashed my voice’, and gave such support and direction that there’s no looking back!
Bambi has written and illustrated 18 childrens books to date, and is now setting her sights on the world of writing for adults. Her first two books, to be published by The Five Mile Press – Men on the Menu (October 2014) and Bad Hair Year (April 2015) – are both memoirs, and follow two very different journeys in Bambi’s somewhat tumultuous life. http://www.bambismyth.com.au
Lee mentored me at the early stages of my book writing. We used to meet at Mr Tulk cafe: crowded and filled with energy. I liked it. I was nervous showing my half-cooked work but needn’t been. Lee was generous to a fault and always encouraging. It makes me laugh remembering how I bristled in response to her criticisms, defending my territory as if my life depended on it. Then, more often than not, I came round to her viewpoint, even before I reached home, where I attempted to unravel her scribbles and prepare for the next working meeting. The fact was that talking to Lee was always stimulating, making me try harder and do better. Thank you Lee 🙂
Halina Rubin grew up in post-war Poland. She graduated Warsaw University with Master of Science in Microbiology. In 1968, in response to government-instigated anti-Semitism, she emigrated and settled in Melbourne. A keen reader of literature and poetry since childhood, she translated poems of Wisława Szymborska into English. ‘Journeys with my Mother’ published by Hybrid Press, is her first book. The book is available at Readings and bookdepository.com.uk
For ten years I had been working on my book, which at the time I feared might never come together. And then one day by chance I met Lee Kofman at Varuna, the Writers House in the Blue Mountains. We got to talking about life and all things writerly. Later I joined one of Lee’s writing classes, three hours a month over several months within a group of other interested and talented writers.
Through the classes I came to understand better the nature of memoir, as it sits in the nexus between fiction and non-fiction. I began to learn more about the importance of authenticity and of voice and about the task of the memoirist: to create a story or stories with questions that hang cantilevered in space, questions a reader wants addressed, if not answered.
My book is yet to find its final form but Lee’s wise and gentle guidance has been invaluable in bringing it closer to publication.
Lee Kofman has a lively and imaginative style when it comes to taking people through their paces on the writer’s journey. Encouraging and yet persuasive, she sets a high standard when it comes to the process both of reading and of writing. Lee will teach you how to read like a writer. She will motivate you to take your writing life more seriously and she will inspire you to see the life in your story and energise your writing through writing exercises, generous handouts on the process of reading and writing, and a fulfilling group experience with other likeminded and talented writers. Her workshops are a must.
Elisabeth Hanscombe is a writer and psychologist who completed her PhD at La Trobe University on the topic ‘Life writing and the desire for revenge’. She has published a number of short stories and essays in the fields of autobiography, psychoanalysis, testimony, trauma and creative non-fiction in Meanjin, Island, Tirra Lirra, Quadrant and Griffith Review as well as in the journals, Life Writing and Life Writing Annual: Biographical and autobiographical studies and in psychotherapy journals and magazines throughout Australia and in the US. She was short listed for the Australian Book Review’s 2009 Calibre essay prize and has a chapter in Stories of Complicated grief: a critical anthology edited by Eric Miller PhD, published by NASW press. She is an adjunct research associate at the Swinburne Institute for Social Research and blogs at http://sixthinline.blogspot.com.au/ .
I have been working on a memoir for many years and was starting to drown in my own work and getting nowhere. I decided I needed a mentor to give me an overview and to help me primarily with structure, motivation and deadlines. I really got lucky when I found Lee Kofman as a mentor. I got all this and more. Lee is a passionate, interested, generous and nurturing mentor who gives perceptive critical advice and feedback in a non-judgmental way. Lee has given me invaluable advice on structure which was my biggest stumbling block. I feel my writing has progressed enormously since being mentored by Lee and I can now see a clear pathway through the morass. It is nice not to feel so alone on the writing journey and to be challenged whilst also being encouraged to keep going….and, oh, she has also cured me(almost) of my propensity for the overblown metaphor! I would thoroughly recommend Lee to anyone looking for a writing mentor.
Judith Bunn recently won the 2013 Grace Marion Wilson Competition for Emerging Writers (Non Fiction Section) and is currently working on a memoir.
I met Lee Kofman when she was a panellist at a Writers Victoria discussion evening. Lee spoke about the writer/mentor relationship. For her, honesty blended with sensitivity were essential aspects of an ethical relationship. That involves understanding that the writer is revealing something worked on passionately for some time, which may or may not be any good. She saw her role as understanding what it is writers want to write, knowing the risk a writer necessarily takes when showing work to someone else for the first time, and knowing how to sensitively help the writer develop or tell them truthfully what they need to do about their writing and their publication desire. I decided then and there that she was the mentor I wanted to work with. Somehow what she said lessened the risk I was feeling.
I sent a book outline and some sample chapters to Lee. When I met with her, she told me that it didn’t work for her, I hadn’t made her care about the person I was writing about. I was shaken for a moment – 3 years work and 19 chapters along. “There is a book in here though” she said, “it is just not the book you are writing.” And then she proceeded to tell me about how she thought it would work. It was not my writing style, that was fine; it was the structure and the voice. I needed to write it in my own voice, tell my own story. Over the next couple of years I worked with Lee on that book and other writing projects. The book, The Harp and the Ferryman (co-authored with Peter Roberts), did get published and is so much better than the book I was writing before I met her. .
I continue in a mentor relationship with Lee (might do for the rest of my life). She is skilful, encouraging, honest, gives terrific feedback, and we laugh a lot.
Helen Cox is Emeritus Professor at Deakin University and co-author of The Harp and the Ferryman (Michelle Anderson Publishing). Details about her book can be found at helencox.com.au
I arrived for my first class with Lee, stomach fluttering at the thought of sharing my words with a group of strangers. I needn’t have worried. Lee’s enthusiasm and support for emerging and not-so-emerging writers of all genres, put everyone at ease. Lee is an outstanding teacher: intuitive, sensitive and quick to point out writing strengths, she also provides the sort of constructive criticism that encourages improvement in all aspects of writing craft. I owe my novel’s stronger beginning to Lee. Oh, and did I mention that Lee’s classes are heaps of fun.
Trish Bolton, a freelance writer published in most of Australia’s major newspapers, would love nothing more than to master the basics of fiction and get beyond the second draft of her manuscript.
Carolyn Angelin is the Author of ADHD to the Power of Three