By Sage Cohen
In 2008, I became an author and a mom. While birthing my book and my baby at the same time, I got a crash course in life as a writer mama. In this column, I will chronicle the trajectory of my mixed-media twins from the twinkle in my eye to the bags under my eyes.
Most of my life, I’ve been quite passionate about achieving two roles: mother and author. And for most of my life, nothing seemed less likely than achieving either. While there are certainly DIY loopholes for each, traditional parenting and traditional publishing required one very important factor: other people willing to help¬¬–namely, a partner and a publisher. I lacked both.
So at age 32, I did what any reasonable person would do: I moved from San Francisco, where rent was devouring most of my income, to Portland, Oregon where I bought a house with a mortgage that was significantly less expensive than my previous rent. While to many of my friends, this move seemed hasty, drastic and out of left field, for me it was a simple strategic move that suddenly made perfect sense–one that fed two birds with one seed. My premise was this: I would create a stable nest (for my five pets and me) in preparation for motherhood. Because I was paying less, I could afford to work less. This would free up more time to write and find Mr. Right.
This premise, as it turns out, was a sound one. In my new life in Portland, with a little more wiggle room, I got involved in multiple writing organizations, started and ran a reading series, became a monthly columnist for multiple publications, took a series of writing classes, started a blog, submitted my work with some regularity, won a poetry contest, placed a number of poems and essays, read and lectured regularly, and was granted a writing residency.
Throughout this time, my dating life seemed primarily to function as kindling for the writing fire. After a few years of boyfriends inspiring many an interesting turn of phrase but bringing me no closer to family life, I started seriously preparing to become a single mother. At the same time, I set out to self-publish my poetry collection. That’s when things really got interesting.
Little did I know that taking responsibility for my own future as a writer and a mother was somehow shuffling the cosmic deck such that the partners I had always dreamed of (in publishing and parenting) were lining up in the wings backstage, soon to be making their twin appearances. Little did I know that I had boarded the express train to my future, with two new identities (author and mother) zooming me at breakneck speed beyond everything I had always known myself to be.
Next month, the courtship: pitching the book; meeting the man.
Sage Cohen is the author of Writing the Life Poetic: An Invitation to Read and Write Poetry, forthcoming from Writer’s Digest Books, and the poetry collection Like the Heart, the World. Her poetry and essays appear in journals and anthologies including Cup of Comfort for Writers, Oregon Literary Review, Greater Good and VoiceCatcher. Sage holds an MA in creative writing from New York University and teaches the e-mail class Poetry for the People. In September 2008, her son Theo Luchs-Cohen initiated Sage into the life of the writer mama.