Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Little Thisa and a Little Thata

I didn’t start out planning to be a critic, and I didn’t start out planning to be a writer. They both just kind of evolved. Many years ago I submitted a story to my local newspaper, “The Houston Home Journal.” I hadn’t been asked to write a story; I just did it – and sent it in. I was amazed when it ran in the next week’s paper. I was even more amazed when the Editor called and asked if I would like to start writing for the newspaper.

Now I already had a full time job so I wasn’t looking for full time employment. So I declined. Then he countered with asking me to write a weekly personal column. When I asked on what subject he wished for me to opine, he said whatever I would like to write about was okay with him. This began “That’s Entertainment,” a weekly column about the movies and other forms of entertainment.

The reading audience seemed to like the column and soon the Editor asked me to do a column on books. He knew I liked to read and it seemed to be a natural fit. So “Novel Ideas” was born. It too proved to be popular and soon both columns were running in several newspapers in Georgia. I also began doing personality profiles for various magazines. I also began to get quoted in the front sections of paperback versions of the hardback novels I had reviewed. Honestly, I think publishers thought I was with “The Houston Home Journal” of Houston, Texas; except there is no “Houston Home Journal” of Houston, Texas.

For many years I had also been keeping a journal, and the stories in my journal formed the basis for my first book JOURNEY OF A GENTLE SOUTHERN MAN. It was published by a small press in Dallas, Texas. I was one of the truly lucky ones. Eventually I entered into a contract with Mercer University Press and I am working on my seventh book for them.

Thus the dichotomy began. I was a critic by day and an author by night. I didn’t feel like a critic until a few years ago when I was contacted by “The Huffington Post” and asked to review movies, books, etc for them. That is when I became a critic, even though I was still just giving my opinion as I always had. I didn’t feel like my opinion was any better than anyone else’s; it was just mine. Still I did begin to learn that if you had a platform like “The Huffington Post” you could wield some influence. I have people who e-mail me and tell me they read everything I like, but I also get e-mails from people who say they read everything I don’t like. Hey, whatever floats their boat.

It is an awkward position to be in. I have many, many good friends who are writers. Jeffery Deaver and I communicate by e-mail most of the time but when I go to see my son in Raleigh and Jeffery is at home we try to grab a cup of coffee. Still when I reviewed CARTE BLANCHE, his new James Bond novel I did not give it a rave review. And this has happened with other friends’ stories as well.

Basically I guess I am a book critic who is also an author. Reviewing is my main job and writing books is my second career. I do a little thisa and a little thata. It makes for a strange career but it is one I could never have dreamed up in my wildest dreams.

Not everyone likes my books. I understand that. I don’t like everyone else’s books. Some I do and some I don’t. I hope you understand that.

Jackie K Cooper is working on MEMORY’S MIST, the seventh book in the JOURNEY series.


christa said...

Loved this...especially about understanding we don't have to like everyone's books or expect them to like ours.

Glad to know you can make a living doing "thisa" and "thata"; it gives me hope!

B. J. Robinson said...

Loved this, too, and for the same reasons as Christa. There are times you like one book a person wrote, but you don't necessarily like all of the ones they've written. Blessings for success, BJ

A Good Blog Is Hard to Find said...

Thanks, Christa, thanks BJ, and thanks to all my friends who have suffered my reviews and come out smiling. said...

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