Monday, June 20, 2011

Partner on the Path: Edith Cohn--My First Partner

Edith and Glamour Girl, Leia

While taking my first steps on the writing journey, I met Edith in a critique group at a children's writing workshop in California. My first and of course, most beloved partner on the path.

On the trail for many years, Edith has experienced the ups and downs, the highs and lows, and the moment when you just have to sit down and rest up a bit. Even in her darkest hours, she's always been there to cheer me on.

What helps this writer maintain her joy and rejuvenate her creativity even when the words just won't come?

Let's find out . . .

What’s your writing history/background? Tell us a bit about yourself.
I have been writing full-time for four years and part-time off and on for most of my life. I’ve also worked as a copywriter selling books for Doubleday Entertainment, been an English teacher, a Summer Reading Coordinator for a university, and an Executive Assistant for a Hollywood production company.

What have been some of the highs on your path to publication?
Early in my writing career, I took a class taught by Sarah Dessen. She encouraged me to send a short story I wrote to a local magazine contest, and I won second place. I got to read my work at Barnes & Noble at a little event the magazine put together. That was pretty amazing. 

But probably the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to me was that one of my books made it to the editorial board at Little Brown…twice. It didn’t make it to publication, but it was championed by an editor I’m a huge fan of, and it felt very special that she liked my book enough to want to acquire it.

Two of my books have been on submission, but neither have made it to publication. I’m supposed to be rewriting one of them so it can go out again, but after a really huge revision, I got super discouraged and took what has turned out to be a very long break. For me the biggest disappointments are when I work crazy hard, and then it’s still not working. Or more specifically, I get the most discouraged when I lose sight of how to fix things. So I think I’m on the “low” side of things at the moment. Though I am still being creative in other ways.

What are some fabulous writing tips you’ve learned along the way?
Well, this isn’t so much a writing tip, as a critiquing tip, but they go hand in hand. This is from Kathleen Duey. She said, you can make a good critique partner of anyone if you tell them to scribble, B, C, or D in the appropriate places: Boring, Confusing, or Don’t Believe It.  I haven’t had the foresight yet to use this tip, but I’d really like to.

What advice do you have for those who are struggling on the path?
Ha! Well seeing as how I’m still struggling, I should be the last person to give advice, but community seems to help me a lot. Being around other people who are trying to be creative, like a critique group or just chatting with other artists. It’s something I need to survive as a writer, and I don’t have it in my life at the moment like I have in the past. I think it has a lot to do with why I haven’t gone back to writing. Though, it could also be that I’m having a lot of fun with my other creative projects.

How do you cope with disappointment?
Wallow a lot until I can’t stand myself. Just kidding. Well, no I’m not kidding, I did that, but then I found something else to do. See below.

What are you doing now?
I’ve been coping with my writing disappointments by sewing. I love it, and I started my own handmade dog collar business on Etsy called ButterPups. I decided dog collars can be little works of art, as crazy as that sounds. Oh and I got a dog! Obviously. Princess Leia is my inspiration for my dog collar business. Since I can’t seem to make any friends, I bought one. She’s not an artist or a writer, but she is my furry muse.

What writing conferences/events are you looking forward to in the future?
I was really looking forward to SCBWI-LA, which is my favorite conference. But then I decided not to go because I’m not really writing at the moment, and I felt like a poser. I did go to BEA though. I never miss Disneyland for Book Lovers if I can help it. DBL is what I call BEA. All those acronyms are confusing, and I just made it worse. You can spank me if you like.

Favorite reads this summer?
I thought True Grit was amazing, and Mattie might be the best heroine I’ve ever read. I also enjoyed Alice I Have Been, which is an adult novel about the real Alice in Wonderland. I’m a little obsessed with Alice in Wonderland. Also I’m almost finished with Laini Taylor’s new book Daughter of Smoke & Bone. Her style is marvelous.

If you have a dog, check out Edith's cute collars. And if you don’t have a dog, she also makes headbands for humans including two that are children’s book themed.


  1. Nice to meet you, Edith! You are so far down the path!! I'm sure it must get more frustrating the farther you get, but you are SO CLOSE! I look forward to reading your published books. :-)

  2. Aw, thanks, Kip! And thanks Angelina for including me in Partners on the Path series.

  3. Great to meet you, Edith! Boy, can I relate! You are sooooo's gonna happen, I know it. I love the critique partner advice from Kathleen Duey. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Edith, I hope you power through this writing low and carry on. (I had a writing low that lasted 5 years so I know of what you speak!)

    As I tell people so often when they get discouraged, "You need to give your biographer a good story to tell someday." That means ups and downs and overcoming lots of rejection. Who wants to read a story that goes: "She met with immediate success and never knew anything but triumph throughout her career." Boooor-ing!

  5. Wow, I'm just so impressed that you continue to have the gumption to power through! Finding other things while still holding on to the dream - way to go Edith! And Princess Leia seems like the best kind of comfort and company. Thoroughly enjoyed your completely inspiring interview.

  6. P.S. you share a name with my much beloved grandmother - it's a name not seen often enough - Edith.

  7. I hope you keep writing, no matter the disappointments, Edith. You are close.

    I heard the same writing tip from Duey when she spoke at my regional SCBWI conference. I haven't tried it, but it makes perfect sense.

  8. I love that tip from Ms. Duey - so true! Good luck to you on your journey, Edith. Hang in there - you are indeed close! Thanks for sharing!


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