Monday, November 12, 2007

Jackie K. Cooper (A Post from the Lost Blog)

I have been a published writer now for eight years, and I still can’t believe it. There is something strangely bizarre about the whole thing. Now don’t get me wrong, I have always loved to write. I wrote in high school for our newspaper and I did so also in college, but that was just having fun with words. I never in my wildest dreams thought I could be “a writer.”

Well passing my time through life I had other occupations such as lawyer, personnel director, movie critic, etc. I still review movies but I have let the other career fields go. They didn’t satisfy whatever need there was in me. Then along came writing and I do believe it is what I was born to do.

I became a published writer by accident. At the time of my life that my writing career started I knew several writers. Jackie White, Ed Williams and Milam McGraw Probst were the three who influenced me the most. They were published writers and to me they were icons. I was in awe of them.

For years I have been keeping a daily journal of sorts. I write down full stories or just snippets of ideas, but I write down something every day. When a reporter friend of mine told me I should try to get the stories from these daily journals published, my three friends encouraged me every step of the way. They were there when I sent out five letters to a variety of small publishers. They were there when one showed an interest. They are still here and are my close friends to this day.

Once I began this accidental career I had the chance to meet more and more writers. They have all been supportive and encouraging. One of the most important people in my writing career is St John Flynn. St John is the host of Georgia Public Broadcasting’s “Cover To Cover.”

When my first book, JOURNEY OF A GENTLE SOUTHERN MAN was published, St John asked me to come to Atlanta and record some of my stories for “Georgia Gazette,” a weekly radio program on GPB. Having my stories read on the air made my name better known than anything else possibly could have – okay maybe Oprah would have brought me more fame but let’s talk reality.

Later St John invited me to be the guest writer on “Cover To Cover.” Now the man is either delusional or he thought it would be a hoot to have someone on to talk about writing who doesn’t have a clue as to how his career came about. But I went on the show and St John asked only questions I could answer. That is his brilliance, he knows how to particularly interview each person he has as a guest. I mean he couldn’t ask Terry Kay and me the same questions.

Speaking of Terry Kay, there is another idol of mine. When I signed with Mercer University Press after my second book had been published, they agreed to publish my third book HALFWAY HOME. They also asked me who I wanted to write the introduction. I didn’t have a clue. They then asked me who my favorite author was and the name Terry Kay immediately came to mind. So ask him, they told me.

I had Terry’s e-mail address or I got it from his website. I sent him a three paragraph e-mail telling him why he shouldn’t write my introduction. I told him he was too busy, too famous, too tired, too kind and a million other things. Then I sent it to him. He replied immediately and said he would do it. Now that is class!

Through the years I have met people like Patti Callahan Henry who just exudes encouragement. She has a group around her that includes Mary Alice Monroe, Marjory Wentworth, and Patti Morrison. They all adopted me and made me feel like a part of their world.

Yes I came into this world of writing by accident but since I have landed I have never felt so secure. Writers are good people. I have yet to see a competitive streak among authors. I have other writers telling me all the time about book festivals, book stores, and the like. They offer suggestions as to how I can make my books better known.

I love this life; I love this world; I love these people. Everyone has a story in them. I just hope everybody gets the chance to tell his or her like I have been able to do.

Jackie K Cooper's newest book is THE BOOKBINDER. His next book THE SUNRISE REMEMBERS will be published in November of 2008 by Mercer University Press.

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