Don’t Wait

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Last Tuesday, one of my favorite authors passed away suddenly. Louise Cooper was a marvelous fantasist, and her Time Master trilogy is one of the most excellent stories I have ever read, even now all these years later. I had always hoped to meet her, and tell her about the worlds she opened up for me with those books. Before I read them, I’d seen fantasy as magical talking animals and questing farm boys searching for some shining McGuffin or other. Not that there’s anything wrong with that style, of course; I just didn’t know that fantasy could be anything else. Instead of the struggle between good and evil, Cooper focused on the constant conflict of order against chaos. The folks on the side of order weren’t particularly good people, driven as they were by their own desires and goals. Daring to be different from the status quo was risking death. Magic came with a price. Not everyone in the story lived happily ever after, even some that might have deserved to. Her books woke something in me that I didn’t even know was sleeping. She and Tim Powers between them showed me a face of fantasy I hadn’t guessed at, and made me want to write it the way they did. I never had the chance to meet her, although I had always hoped to.

The thing is, she was young. In her fifties, I believe. And her death was completely unexpected. What if she had put off writing, as so many people do? What if she’d said to herself, “Oh, when the children are grown, I’ll write?” What if she just couldn’t write anywhere but the little coffee shop that suddenly closed last spring? What if she’d decided she needed a cabin in the mountains to find her muse? Nonsense, right? Yet so many of us do exactly that. We insist we can’t write until certain conditions are met, or only on one kind of medium, or only in one place. And suddenly we’re looking age in the face and realizing we never got around to writing that book that’s aching to get out.

If Ms Cooper had given in to those whims, I’d never have known her world. I’m so lucky she wrote, even for the short time she was around. But with her passing, I’m feeling my own mortality, and all the books I want to write are pushing at the edges of my awareness. I can’t guess what might happen tomorrow, so I need to remember to do it today. I’m going to put my own butt back in the chair and keep doing what she inspired me to do. What are y’all waiting for?

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7 comments to Don’t Wait

  • What a wonderful post, Misty. I am so sorry that one of your writing idols has passed, but happy she gave you so much.

    To reply to a different aspect of your post, I used to be one of those *it has to be right* writers. Now I have learned to write anywhere on anything (though I have my preferences, of coure). However, making the transition from pen and paper to PC was difficult, and frankly the change affected my style, leaning me away from flowery purple prose to a more sparse, economical style, which I quite like, though it took some getting used to.

    Hugs, on your loss, sweetie!

  • What Faith said. A sad day for fantasy and book lovers. But thank you for turning it into something positive.

  • What a great way to celebrate this person’s life while encouraging people to get writing. I’ve never read Ms. Cooper’s work myself, but now maybe I will. When I have time out from writing. It’s always sad when another great writer moves on the big library in the sky.

  • That her books remain is a kind of immortality. Something to aspire to.

  • Liz

    OMG I read Louise Cooper as a kid and loved her. I can’t believe she is gone. How sad.

  • Thank you for this lovely post. You are SO right!! I can relate to that ‘waiting’ thing, or in my case… putting it off until…? Thank goodness I am now doing what I’m supposed to be doing! i.e. writing & getting published. I wish I’d started sooner, though, like Louise Cooper did.

    I, too, really admired Ms. Cooper. I didn’t know she’d passed away – I’m glad I read your post on this.

    Best,
    Karen

  • Thank you so much for this post. I’m one of those “waiting” people. I’m not sure what exactly I’m waiting on. My son is grown. I have no real excuse, but there always seems to be something. “I’ll get busy writing that book just as soon as I…”

    I’m 40 years old. I’d say the time for waiting is growing short. 40 is young, but none of us know when our time here will be done.

    I’m so very sorry for your loss, but I grateful to you for sharing it with us. I’m sure that I’m not the only person who needed to hear this message.

    Take care.
    PJ