Last Thursday, this writing group, joined by family and friends, celebrated the release of an anthology commemorating the third anniversary of this column. The previously published work of 39 authors is included in the collection. Kacie Cooper shares her thoughts about this event with her usual inventive comedy. Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles by participants in a writing class at the Norwalk Senior Center. Bonnie Mansell is the instructor for this free class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program. Curated by Carol Kearns
By Kacie (Kathy) Cooper
You’ve heard the question I’m sure, “Why are we here?” Did you ever get a solid answer to that question? It’s almost like asking the question, “Why do we write?”
Yeah, I know, we can throw out many good reasons, like – we write to educate, to collaborate, to uncomplicated, to teach, to preach, to improve, to explain, to entertain.
The list is endless. But I’m looking for a more concrete answer, the ultimate answer, to why we write.
I think we need to go back in time and see where this writing thing actually began. And in my opinion, it all started with Eve. You know, Eve of Adam and Eve? Yes, I think it might have been Eve who began the first memoir.
It probably started out like an ordinary day (Ha, as if the Garden of Eden could have an ordinary anything). Adam was out and about in the Garden of Eden getting his hands dirty like most men tend to do and Eve was at home with nothing to do but admire the beauty all around her.
And, women, you know how unchallenging that can get, and since the only other hobby (gardening) was already taken, she came up with the idea of writing memoir.
She walked out into the garden, picked up a long, thin branch from a nearby sycamore tree and began the first journal ever recorded right there in the dirt.
The first day her journal read like this: “It was the best of times.” Then, wouldn’t you know it, the very next day it read: “It was the worst of times.” And of course, other writers have used those exact first lines and it paid off for them.
Some of you might not know that it was actually Eve who came up with the idea of the initials P.S. that we often use at the bottom of letters, only back then, P.S. stood for “party sucks.”
P.S., Adam, “we’re not in Kansas anymore.” That line was in L. Frank Baum’s novel The Wizard of Oz and has been used many times in history.
I’ve wanted to be a writer most of my life. But that critic in my head stopped me from ever really pursuing writing.
In 2006 my father invited me to join Bonnie Mansell’s memoir writing class. Thank you, Dad, thank you, Bonnie. This class is one of the best things to ever happen to me in regard to writing.
During this period I came across this quote: “Don’t get it right ( r-i-g-h-t), get it written.” That little quote has helped me get those stupid critics, Sysco and Ebert, out of my head.
Of course, now I write nonsense, but I don’t care. Now I can call myself a writer because at least now I’m getting my thoughts down on paper.
I’ve watched American Idol for years and thought about the answers contestants would offer when the judges asked, “Why do you want to be the next American Idol? Why do you sing?”
Some contestants would answer, “Because I love the money,” or, “I want to live in Beverly Hills.” But there were always a few who responded with, “I want to sing because I have to.”
After being in Bonnie Mansell’s class for over 10 years now, I tend to think that this great group of writers writes because they have to. That’s the answer I love to hear, because I have to.
I think most of us here today write because we have to. I wonder if that was why Ann Frank wrote and kept a diary. Because she had to. I’m so glad she did.
Which brings me to the main reason, the ultimate reason why we write, the most important reason why I think we write. We write because we can. We write because we live in a free country, thank God.