An invitation to share your questions and celebrations

Sage CohenProductive writing10 Comments

Greetings! It’s a gray and wet Sunday morning here in Portland—the kind of day that invites melancholy to rise to the surface of every puddle—and I’m thinking about you writers all over the globe. What are you struggling with and celebrating at this very moment?

I get a lot of email (and lately tweets) from writers with questions about writing craft and career. I thought it might be helpful to start addressing these in a more public forum—so everyone benefits from the community’s inquiries about the universal issues we all face as we wonder and write.

If you have a question for me about the writing life, I’d be honored to attempt to answer it here. Just write your question in the comments section for this post, and then look for a blog post dedicated to responding to questions in the coming weeks.

I’d also love to hear any and all writing life celebrations, and I invite you to share those in the comments section as well. Did you meet a writing goal you set? Were you finally courageous enough to submit that batch of poems or read in front of an audience? Were you published or recognized for your work? Did you finally organize your filing system? Did you let go of that punishing perfectionism that was keeping you stuck?

There is nothing that invigorates me more than hearing good news—and contemplating possibilities—about the writing life! I look forward to hearing from you.

10 Comments on “An invitation to share your questions and celebrations”

  1. Hi Sage,
    Just loved your book, as you know from my rave reviews. It helped me stage my writing life in a centralized fashion, thus putting my writing life physically as high of a priority as it is for me mentally.
    Now I’m at the stage where I have works all from one genre, fiction but in different forms: Screenplays, children’s book, novel, short stories, flash fiction. I would like an agent but I’m not sure how to go about it with so many different forms that my fictions take. Not to mention, most of my business and author friends try to steer me away from going with an agent these days, given the self publishing revolution. But I want my work to reach publishers and producers that I am not aware of. And I would like to spend more time writing and less time marketing.

    Any thoughts on my dilemma would be MOST helpful.
    In appreciation and much thanks for your ongoing support to writers! Niya

  2. Hi Sage –

    Thanks for the invitation to share. I thought I’d jump at the chance to write something positive, since those moments can seem few and far between.

    I finished my POETRY 366 project of writing a-poem-a-day-for-a-year on my blog, “Micki-isms”! In celebration of the work, my boyfriend constructed a poetry box – built into the rock wall in front of his house in NE Portland! – to display my work.

    As such, I was primed with lots of material to enter into the Tranquil Relief Through Nature contest, where I took 2nd place in the “Forest” category, and was published in the resulting book.

    I also have two lines from different poems being considered for inclusion in Tri-Met’s “Orange Lining” Project, that will print poetry along the new MAX Orange Line to Milwaukie.

    Thanks for your postings, Sage. They keep me positive and grounded, while encouraging me to reach for my goals.


    Micki Selvitella

  3. I love your books and blogs and have been a fan for a while. I’ve read “Writing the Life Poetic” three times. I write and have publsihed poems, personal essays and flash fiction. I have a novel in progress and two others completed in need of a lot of revision. Writing is a joy and a challenge or time and attention. Writing in several genres on top of a full time day job is a struggle. I am now focusing more on poetry but find it hard to give up flash ficiton or the novel. I guess my question/concern is how to focus on one writing genre and goal so I can actually finish something. I have enough stories for a chapbook or collection–3 of them published–but I keep getting sidetracked. HELP!

  4. Thanks for the invitation to share good news about my novel, Vagilantes, published 2/29/12. The review below is by Anonymous, but I know this person. They are in the publishing business, and very close to the topic of child sexual abuse. I’m delighted to receive this opinion.

    5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and Inspirational,
    June 23, 2012
    By Anonymous
    This review is from: Vagilantes (Hardcover)
    The cover of this book shouts a clever and acerbic work, and Julie Golden delivers with Vagilantes. The characters in this book see themselves as agents of change, and reading it will raise your social consciousness regarding child sexual abuse, gender inequality, the ineptitude of our criminal justice system and how a dedicated few can change their worlds. And don’t think this novel only offers a simplistic, violent solution, as suggested by the subtitle (Pedophiles, be afraid. Very afraid.” It’s deeper than that, as shown by one of the characters as she offers her thoughts on how to help child sex abusers change: They must “…realize the pain they are expressing reflects their own past traumas. They must be shown how to feel all of their deep pain, dissolve their rage and transmute the energy.”

    Vagilantes will give you pause, and help you view your everyday life in a different way. For as one of the characters observes, “Change your language, you change you life.”
    Bravo, Julie Golden.

  5. Renee: Wow–so many wonderful writing passions and projects! I can understand your concern about reaching completion when you have so many balls in the air. However, in my experience, it actually shuts us down when we try to force ourselves in a single direction when our inclination is to be moving in many directions at once. My invitation to you is to follow the flow of where you are called to write, and to let your work get finished as it is ready, in your own time. If you stay committed to writing what calls you most strongly, it will all get done, in time.

  6. Micki: Congratulations on such an abundant output of poetry! And, what a wonderful thing to have created work that is being well recognized and celebrated! Please keep us posted as you learn more about the work under consideration!

  7. Niya: You goddess of abundance, you! : ) Because I do not write/publish in as many genres as you, I can not answer your question from firsthand experience. But I can tell you what I would do…Agents like to feel that you’re very focused on a particular type of work–and this makes it easier for them to understand / sell your work. I’d start with whatever project I wanted to bring into the world first and research the best agent for that. Once I had one working relationship established, I’d discuss with that agent my other genres of work and ask him/her for recommendations about how to proceed. Does that make sense? The Willamette Writer’s Conference is a great way to talk to agents and feel out who might be a good fit for you and your work!

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