Minute Mentor is a series of posts profiling real people achieving their dreams. It began with the simple idea that “seeing is being.” When cofounders Rick and Faye’s oldest son was born, it was clear he was musically inclined. He was playing piano by ear at age 4 and neither of them ever even picked up an instrument! When Faye remembered an old neighbor who had gone on to become a Julliard trained musician, she immediately reached out to him and said, “What do we do?” He patiently answered all of her questions on how best to nurture her budding musician.
Minute Mentor provides a space for real people to tell their stories so if you or your little one is in search of mentorship on how to achieve their dreams, you can look no further than right here! Sometimes the best inspiration comes from seeing someone that looks like you achieving similar goals.
If you have any questions or comments for the featured guest, leave a comment, and we will do our best to bring it to their attention! Happy imagining!
Age Range: 35
Education: Bachelor’s Degree in English, Juris Doctor Degree (Law Degree)
How hard do you work?
- Lots of Leisure Time
- Typical 40-50hr Workweek
- More than Average
- I never stop working
- Side Hustle/Didn’t Quit My Day Job
- Getting By
- My bills are Paid with Some Room for Fun
- You get a car! You get a car!
Describe your job:
By day, I am a government attorney working in public service. I am also a traditionally published and self-published author. I teach writing courses. I also blog and write articles online. In addition, I manage this lovely website.
What education level is required for your job? Tests? Certificates? Years of school?
In order to be an attorney, I had to graduate high school, get my college degree (4 years), and go to law school (3 years). I had to take the SAT to get into college, the LSAT to get into law school, and after I graduated law school, I had to take a state bar to practice law in the state I live in.
Writing is different. I have been writing since I was six years old! Technically, you don’t need a particular degree to be a writer. My major in college was in English so that was extremely helpful because I was able to practice my writing, have it graded, and receive feedback from my peers. That made me a better writer. Some people go on to get their Master’s degree in Fine Arts which enables them to specialize in a particular kind of writing like screenwriting or playwriting. It also gives them the option to teach!
Take it one step at a time. It’s easy to get overwhelmed if you look at the big picture and not all the small steps it takes to get there. It is not insurmountable. I would also say surround your children with people who are goal-oriented. Laziness is contagious! I make it a habit to never be the smartest person in the room. If I am, I work to get out as soon as possible. I want people around me who will elevate me and not drag me down.
What kind of student were you?
I was an A & B student for most of my education. I struggled more in math and science because I am more creative by nature. Law school was more challenging for me but I don’t think anyone finds law school easy!
Did you have a mentor? How did you meet?
I have had a number of mentors throughout my career. My legal mentors were mostly professors and employers. My most impactful mentor relationships happened organically with people I genuinely liked. I didn’t have to try too hard. As I have grown in my career, many of those relationships have turned into friendships.
In writing, some of my mentors were professors. Others were people I met along the way at writing groups and meet-ups. Being a writer can be isolating! If you are an introvert (like me), you have to constantly push yourself to go out and meet other writers. I live in the DMV, so I have taken workshops at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda which have been wonderful for meeting other writers and honing the craft!
How did you get your current job?
I applied for my day (legal) job through a notice that went out through my law school’s alumni network.
As a writer, I work on my own schedule.
Is your job family-friendly?
My day job is very family-friendly. I am an attorney with the government, so usually I am able to get off work by 5pm. I also work from home a great deal which is awesome.
Writing is different. It’s easy to get caught up when you’re writing. I have a husband and 3 kids, so I have to constantly check myself to make sure I am giving them enough quality time. Often, I write after everyone goes to bed. I don’t get enough sleep.
Do you find your work fulfilling?
Yes. Especially the writing.
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer/lawyer?
As far as the writing goes, I have always felt like a writer so the answer is YES.
As far as law, I decided I wanted to be a lawyer when I was probably about 11 or 12. I used to love the television show A Different World. There was this amazing character named Freddie Brooks who was this poet/granola-eating/hippie with this wild curly hair. She had a hot boyfriend with locs. I adored her, and I saw my adult self being something like her. In one of the last seasons, she decided to go to law school. It was this kind of natural choice for her because she cared so passionately about social justice issues. She was still very much herself but in her day job, she was about the business of healing her community through the legal system. I wanted to be JUST like her. I truly believe sometimes goals and dreams don’t feel attainable until you see someone who looks like you achieving them. That’s why I created this site! Freddie may not have actually been real but watching her each week on A Different World made me feel like if she could do it, I could too.
What advice would you give a parent of a child/young adult interested in pursuing a job in your field?
For law, I’d say take it one step at a time. It’s easy to get overwhelmed if you look at the big picture and not all the small steps it takes to get there. It is not insurmountable. I would also say surround them with people who are goal-oriented. Laziness is contagious! I make it a habit to never be the smartest person in the room. If I am, I work to get out as soon as possible. I want people around me who will elevate me and not drag me down.
For writing, I would encourage you to travel, go to shows, concerts and readings. It doesn’t have to cost a ton of money. There are always free things to do! Expose your child to the arts. My best writing has been inspired. I think it’s important to see different perspectives and meet different types of people. I think in order for fiction to feel real you have to be able to empathize with different people and perspectives. Exposure is key! I would also get a library card and/or a B&N membership. Encourage your child to read and be comfortable with silence. There are so many distractions. Pursuing a career in writing is an exercise in discipline.
Of course for all careers, be encouraging! Your child may want to pursue a career you never even heard of. Focus on the steps to get there and not all the things that can hold them back.
One thought on “Minute Mentor: Attorney and Author Faye McCray”
What excelllent advice! It’s so easy to be overwhelmed if you find yourself
on a fast track. Stepping back to avoid burnout is wise indeed. I especially like your comment about looking not to be the smartest person in the room. It takes a great deal of finesse and maturity to do this – and involves leaving behind many hard-to-leave egos at the door.