Today, we're joined by Jackie K. Cooper. He will be on faculty at the 2009 South Carolina Writers' Workshop Conference.
WHY I WRITE
Over the past few years I have been asked over and over again as to why I write. Well the answer is that I write with the hope someone will read what I have written and will get something from it – be it a laugh, a tear, or a thought. Now how do people get the books I write? Hopefully some people will go to their local book store and purchase copies. Others may just go to their local libraries and check them out.
If they do go to their libraries they had better check the hours of operation because most of them in my state, Georgia, have changed. It is called economics, or more specifically a money shortfall. There is not enough money to keep the libraries open the regular hours so they are being cut back.
The libraries are also having to cut back on staff. Some of have gotten rid of people manning the desks while others have gotten rid of those people who shelve the books. And there may be worse cuts to come.
I love libraries, always have and always will. When I was growing up in Clinton, South Carolina the children’s librarian was Miss Gray. She was really Mrs. Gray in her everyday life but in the library she was Miss Gray.Miss Gray had a wonderfully lyrical voice and when she read us stories the world came alive to us. She did this every Wednesday afternoon and all of us kids looked forward to it. After she read she would spend time with each child finding him/her a special book to check out. She was amazing in knowing what each of us wanted to read.
Years later when I joined the Air Force I was assigned to Robins Air Force Base in Georgia. One of the first places I looked up was the Base Library. There I met the librarian, Mrs. Jarman, and we became great friends. Mrs. Jarman was a voracious reader and she and I could discuss books until the cows came home.
After I married and moved to Perry, Georgia I met Alice Gilbert, the local librarian. Alice knew more about books and authors than I could imagine. She was a walking encyclopedia about them. If you mentioned an author you liked, well she could mention five more that you might be interested in reading. And if you didn’t like those five, then she could add another five to your list.
Recently I heard from a friend of mine who works for the library system in Gwinnett County. I was supposed to teach a writing class as part of the adult programming at the library. He said that due to a lack of funds the adult programming he had planned was cancelled. Then he added that the Gwinnett Reading Festival was also canceled.
The Gwinnett County Reading Festival had been in existence for two years and was getting better each year. The authors who attended got a chance to meet and mingle with the people of Gwinnett County who love to read. I had been both years and had a great time. It also gave me a chance to meet Carmen Deedy, Rick Bragg and other authors I admire.
Why is it when money gets tight the Arts are the first to suffer? It seems this world is considered the most expendable. It isn’t right. It just isn’t right.
I dreamed one day of writing books that people would read. The dream came true but now it is in danger. Authors need libraries; kids need libraries; the world needs libraries.
Jackie K. Cooper was born in South Carolina and now lives in Georgia. He is the married father of two sons and the proud grandparent of a boy and two girlsHe is familiar to people living in the middle Georgia area as the "entertainment man" since his entertainment reviews run in newspapers and are shown on television there. His short stories have been used as commentary on Georgia Public Radio. He also keeps active appearing as an after dinner speaker for various events.Cooper has lived an exceptionally interesting life and portions of it were contained in his first book "JOURNEY OF A GENTLE SOUTHERN MAN". The journey continued in "CHANCES AND CHOICES". His third book "HALFWAY HOME" was published by Mercer University Press in October 2004. His fourth book THE BOOK BINDER was published in the fall of 2006. His latest collection of stories is titled THE SUNRISE REMEMBERS which was also published by Mercer University Press. Check out his website at www.jackiekcooper.com.