The movie Field of Dreams gave me the wisdom, “Build it and they will come.” Our publisher Christina Katz introduced me to the platform-building toolbox gathering dust in the back of my writing closet, and articulated a blueprint for actualizing my potential into a publishing path. Discovering through a series of classes with Christina that I already had the requisite skills, publications and experience to qualify as a bona fide platform, I took the plunge and claimed it: Writing the Life Poetic.
With this stake in the sand, I quickly connected the dots among my many poetic passions and proclivities, and started taking myself seriously as a poet who knows a great deal and has much to share about writing and publishing poetry. I wrote and published articles, beefed up my creative writing web site, www.sagesaidso.com, and refined the focus of my blog, www.sagesaidso.typepad.com.
I pitched—and taught––a publishing workshop at a writing conference, and established my first online poetry class. Perhaps the greatest celebration was publishing my first collection of poetry, Like the Heart, the World.
Having a clear target gave me such a sense of purpose that somehow my writing and publishing efforts began to feel effortless. As if I were magnetized to them, opportunities just started unfolding for me. I was invited to bring the poetry reading series I host to Barnes & Noble, Lloyd Center. I was invited to host my book launch reading and celebration at Barnes & Noble, Vancouver. I was invited to judge a poetry contest for a writing conference. I was invited to sell Like the Heart, the World at Powell’s Books and Border’s.
Within a year of claiming my platform, I wrote and submitted a proposal to Writer’s Digest Books. Nine months and three Table-of-Contents versions later, this week I signed the contract for Writing the Life Poetic. A creative companion offering ideas and inspiration for people who want to cultivate a poetry practice, Writing the Life Poetic will be published in February 2009.
I share this story with you in the hopes that you will take a look at your own writing career and take stock of how much good work is already pointing you in the direction you want to go. Chances are, naming and claiming your platform will put the pedal to the metal of your publishing trajectory. I’d love to hear about your latest three platform-building successes in the comments below! Thanks for celebrating mine with me!
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 Cup of Comfort for Writers, Oregon Literary Review, 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 Writers on the Rise, Sage teaches Poetry for the People, an email poetry class.