The Articulate Conception: The Courtship

Sage Cohen and TheoBy Sage Cohen

By mid-2006, I’d been living in Portland for three years and my sisters-are-doing-it-for-themselves life was cruising along quite nicely. I had achieved many writing and personal goals that drew me to Portland, but I wanted more: more time for my creative writing and more possibilities for creating a family. I decided to leave Portland.

My plan was to sell my house, which was then worth far more than I bought it for, and take a year’s hiatus from my freelance copywriting business to focus entirely on my creative writing. Because my “advanced maternal age” biological clock was ticking loudly, I thought this hiatus could also be a good time to attempt becoming a single mother by choice.

I started traveling around the country trying to find the right place for my dogs, cats, my theoretical progeny and me to live simply in a community that felt right. After dedicating several months to what felt like Goldilox’s quest for someone else’s life, I just couldn’t find one that fit any better than the one I already had. By the end of 2006, I decided to stay exactly where I was. I suspected there could be some other way to create the hiatus I craved and family I desired without turning my life entirely upside down.

Enter Christina Katz. In December 2006, Christina let me know that her editor at Writer’s Digest Books was seeking a friendly, accessible poetry how-to book that was more inspiring than academic. I had just finished taking Christina’s platform class where she helped me understand that I already had a long-established poetry platform. In her class, I claimed that platform. When I chose the name “Writing the Life Poetic,” it was if my self-perceived straw transformed alchemically to gold. Within a few months, my writing life took a quantum leap forward with invitations to read, speak and teach. And now, the chance to pitch a book.

Christina knew this book opportunity was a lock-in-key fit with my passion and expertise. She advised me to drop everything, write a query that very day and send it. And that’s exactly what I did. (This query now appears in Wendy Burt-Thomas’ fabulous new book The Writer’s Digest Guide to Query Letters.)

Jane Friedman, editor extraordinaire, responded that she was interested in seeing my proposal. And I was off, dedicating every spare moment of every evening and weekend throughout the next month writing a 40+-page book proposal. While it wasn’t exactly a writing retreat, it ended up being the equivalent of a second full-time job’s worth of creative work. When I sealed that FedEx envelope stuffed with my hefty, thoroughly conceived book concept, I was convinced that creative people everywhere needed exactly this type of initiation into the realm of poetry and that I was the best guide for the job. In essence, I had written myself into a kind of faith in my future as an author.

Next month: Meeting the man; committing to the publisher.

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.
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3 Responses to “The Articulate Conception: The Courtship”


  1. 1 ScribeGirl February 20, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    just the kind of inspirational story i needed today. i love the idea of writing yourself into faith in your future. thanks!

  2. 2 exhale. return to center. February 21, 2009 at 7:43 am

    Sage! I love reading every word you write. Thank you.

  3. 3 Sage Cohen May 4, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    Aw, shucks! Thanks so much!


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