Straight Talk on Writing: 20 Conversations with Authors about the Craft

By Scott Francis | Go to book overview

Sage Cohen

“You have your own,
unique place in this world,
and your job is to write
yourself there.”

Sage Cohen is the author of Writing the Life Poetic: An Invitation to Read and Write Poetry and the poetry collection Like the Heart, the World. Her essay “The Word Is the Way” appeared alongside thought leaders such as Barack Obama, Al Gore, and Thomas L. Friedman in the anthology How to Achieve a Heaven on Earth. Cohen has won first prize in the Ghost Road Press poetry contest and been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She holds an M.A. in creative writing from New York University and a B.A. from Brown University. Cohen lectures and teaches widely—including the popular online class Poetry for the People, publishes the Writing the Life Poetic zine, and hosts the online community and learning laboratory The Path of Possibility in Writing and Life at www.pathofpossibility.com.

I had the chance to work as Cohen’s editor for her book The Productive Writer. I found myself identifying with so many things she said in the book, and was inspired by not just her ideas and writing advice, but by her voice. Reading her book was like sitting down to discuss the craft of writing with a friend over a cup of coffee. Check out the following interview with her, and you’ll see what I mean.

—SF


When did you first know
that you wanted to be a
writer?

I never really thought about wanting to be a writer. From a very young age, writing was just something I did—like breathing— to stay alive. In my early 20s, it occurred to me that I wrote poems every day, and perhaps that meant that I was a poet. It was a bit of a shock, really, to discover that I was a writer when I had no selfconsciousness about it for so long.


What was the first thing you
ever wrote?

While it was certainly not the first thing I ever wrote, my 10th grade paper on “The Once and Future King” was my initiation into the alchemies of the writing life. I remember carefully articulating my three-point argument to back up my thesis statement, just as we were instructed to do. And then, when I arrived at the conclusion, it sort of wrote its way through me. I lost conscious control and some other impulse drew the unifying revelation out and onto the paper. It was almost a mystical experience. I was hooked.


What’s the best advice you
ever received?

-21-

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Straight Talk on Writing: 20 Conversations with Authors about the Craft
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Acknowledgments i
  • Table of Contents ii
  • Introduction 1
  • Laurie Alberts 2
  • Barbara Baig 6
  • William Cane 9
  • Orson Scott Card 13
  • Sage Cohen 21
  • Sarah Dornet 25
  • Jeff Gerke 29
  • April Hamilton 32
  • Becky Levine 37
  • Donald Maass 41
  • Dinty W. Moore 43
  • Jessica Page Morrell 46
  • Steven Harper Piziks 49
  • Peter Seigin 53
  • George Singleton 57
  • James Alexander Thom 60
  • Fred White 62
  • Karen S. Wiesner 64
  • You’Ve Read the Interviews… Now Read the Books! 68
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