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.