Message from the Managing Editor: On Leaving the Nest

sage.gifBy Sage Cohen

This week, I signed my first book contract. While a lifetime of intentions and actions far too numerous to name have led me here, I’d like to share with you one particularly fortuitous experience that has accelerated my journey significantly in the past two years: mentorship.

As a co-collaborator with Christina Katz on this publication since 2006, I have had the privilege to witness up close and personal what can be possible when a talented, hard-working writer with vision and chutzpah dedicates herself to bringing her vision to life. Most importantly, I have seen someone I know and admire make the leap from successful freelance writer to successful author. As I observed Christina’s trajectory, I was able for the first time to visualize my own.

I feel particularly fortunate in my apprenticeship with Christina, because she is not only an inspiring role model, but also a motivating coach. Routinely, she challenges me to accomplish goals that have always felt out of reach. Over time, her faith in me bolstered my faith in me. And I stuck my neck out farther than has ever felt tolerable in the past.
Slowly, I began to mobilize a smattering of directionless potential into focused action, ultimately arriving at a polished book proposal––and then, in the end, a book deal.

Recently, I thanked Christina for pushing me out of the nest. She responded, “Oh, you had already leapt out of the nest. I was the one shouting, ‘Flap your wings! Flap your wings!’” What I wish for each and every one of you is some such person (or maybe the composite of a few different people) whose accomplishments inspire your own, whose faith restores your own, and whose cheering helps you transform that wobbly leap from the nest into a flight to remember.

How to connect with and learn from people you admire

• Take a class: This can be the most direct way to acquire the skills or knowledge you’re seeking from someone with expertise.
• Hire a coach: Writing and editing coaches can work with you to refine your goals and strategies as well as your writing––cultivating both confidence and career.
• Volunteer: Giving service is good for your community, good for the organization for which you volunteer and good for you. Often, you have the opportunity to work with and learn from people doing what you’d like to do someday. What a win-win way to rub shoulders with your role models!
• Do informational interviews: Take a writer you admire out for coffee. Bring a notebook. Ask juicy questions. Listen carefully.
• Go public: Attend readings, lectures, workshops and other literary events in your community. When you commit to participating in the communities that inspire and nourish you, the universe is far more likely to meet you halfway with interesting people and opportunities!

Sage Cohen is the author of Writing the Life Poetic, a creative companion for poets 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 Oregon Literary Review, Cup of Comfort for Writers, Greater Good and VoiceCatcher. In 2006, she won first prize in the Ghost Road Press annual poetry contest. Sage holds an MA in creative writing from New York University where she was awarded a New York Times Foundation fellowship. For organizations including Writers on the Rise and Willamette Writers, Sage teaches poetry writing and publishing workshops. Visit Sage at


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