Thursday, January 5, 2012

Be a Better Man in 30 Days - Find a Mentor

The second step in the Be a Better Man in 30 Days challenge from Art of Manliness is supposed to be about shining your shoes.  Well, I had a crazy hectic day today and wasn't able to get around to a shoe repair store to pick up everything I need to safely and effectively polish my nice dress shoes.  So I've postponed shoe shining until tomorrow and instead skipped ahead to step three: Find a Mentor.

This one is exceedingly easy, considering I already have a mentor.  Perhaps the relationship isn't as official as the AoM article seems to think it should be.  After all, I didn't actively ask this person to be my mentor, though I'm certain of the answer had I chosen to.  Instead, I spent the last couple of years cultivating a close friendship from seeds that were originally planted in the name of career aspirations.

My mentor is also my friend and his name is Christopher Cerasi.  If I know Chris, he's probably getting emotional reading this, so let's all pause and give him a moment.

Good.  Moving on.

I first became aware of Chris (at the time a licensed publishing editor for DC) through a mutual acquaintance who was working on a possible project for DC's licensed publishing line.  I was so impressed by Chris's passion for that particular project and his (then secondhand) ideas for what comics and their subsequent merchandising should be that I decided to strike up a conversation.  Well, in the interest of full disclosure, I pitched him something as well.  To my surprise, he was every bit as excited and passionate about the kind of superhero storytelling that I believed in myself, more so perhaps, and was more than happy to listen, give advice and ultimately take a chance on a young writer struggling to find his way.  I pitched Chris a series of books based on the biggest comics icon in the entire world and he didn't just like what I created; he believed in it.  Unfortunately for us both, that position at DC fell by the wayside and took with it our project.  But Chris and I remained friends.

It was a friendship that existed solely online and through phonecalls for a long time.  What started as discussions about the project and about writing in general eventually transformed into long talks about our goals, our struggles, our friends, our careers and our love lives.  In short, the kind of conversations friends have.  Over the course of a very rough couple of years, Chris and I developed a very important and beneficial friendship as we both helped shine a light into some dark places in one another's lives.  This all culminated in finally meeting at this past year's New York Comic Con, where we walked the floor like two men who'd been business partners for years.  We'll work together some day, that much is evident.  It will probably be this year.

Christopher Cerasi is a man of sincere integrity and compassion who would literally crawl across a desert of broken glass if he thought it would help a friend.  Throughout his career he's seen success and he's known failure, but regardless of where those shifts have taken him, he has always held fast to his principles.  Today he is a freelance editor and writer doing things on his time and his terms, and I couldn't be happier for him.  It's the kind of career I want for myself someday and the kind of life for which I have the utmost respect.  And that's why Christopher Cerasi is my mentor.

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