Maria Cotera- Reflection

After a long day in class, and a slippery walk down Washington Street, I was able to make it just in time for the How I Write event.  As I sat in the basement of the Literati bookstore, listening to Maria’s intriguing story, I had many thoughts going through my head.  First of all, I was wondering how long it would take me to thaw out after walking in the bitter cold (it took a while for this to get off of my mind), but I also couldn’t help but compare my first writing exposure to Maria’s.  I was very fascinated by her story, but that left me to feel like my story couldn’t measure.  That’s when I realized- that’s all it is.  A story.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved the whole interview.  I was very interested in what Maria had to say and found myself sitting there, hoping I could be in her position at one point in my life.  As cliche as it sounds, I felt like I was at home.  I was sitting in a bookstore listening to an interview about writing– something that has been a part of my life since I was little.  While listening to Maria answering questions about her writing career, I began to feel like she had a much better reason to be writing than I did.  Although her comment about not being on path as an undergrad made me feel a lot better about my current situation, it made me realize that I don’t have the personal connection to writing that she does.  Her mom wrote and self-published books, they were both passionate about giving the voice to the voiceless, and they both went out and wrote.

While I listened to the interview, I couldn’t help but flash back to my English 140 class.  The class was called “Our Heroes, What’s their Story?” and it focused on reading different books about a real-life hero (like Jackie Robinson) and comparing the differences between the stories told.  Thinking back on this class made me realize: as she was sitting in front of us all in the basement of the bookstore, all Maria was really doing was telling a story.

What made me start thinking critically was when I started to compare my story to hers.  She began by talking about how her first exposure to writing was when she was young and would play in the play place and McDonalds as her mother wrote stories, longhand in a booth.  This made me think back to when I was first exposed to writing.  My mom has always written, too, but I didn’t even know that she wrote constantly until I was about twelve and I found a story she was writing on her nightstand.  She has since told me that she wrote while I was at my dance lessons and soccer practices, but I never noticed until I was older.  So, I began to wonder, if I were asked when I was first exposed to writing, what would I say?  The first memory I have about writing is that I wrote an awful play in first grade about a sunflower and a bunch of other plants taking adventures in my backyard.  Its a real conflicting situation.  The first time I remember being exposed to writing versus the first time I really was exposed to writing.  Well, obviously my mom writing while I was at soccer practice wasn’t notable enough for me to remember it, but it definitely makes for the better story.  I probably would choose to answer the question alluding to my mother, as well.  So how do we know that Maria wasn’t faced with the same decision?

I don’t mean to sound so cynical, I just hope to stir up some critical thinking.  It isn’t a bad thing to tell a story about your past.  Anyone who is told to discuss their past falls into telling a story because there is no way to tell the exact truth (and a little story enhancement never hurt anyone!)  Also, Maria is a writer!  Writers tell stories!  After thinking about the situation, I decided I probably would say that my first exposure to writing came from my mom, as well.  In the end, the past story doesn’t matter.  What matters is what you do with your future, how you write the rest of your story.  So even if my past story doesn’t compare to Maria’s, I hope the rest of my story includes a time where I, too, can be a writer worthy of being interviewed.


One thought to “Maria Cotera- Reflection”

  1. Kaitlynn,

    Thank you for posting about this! I wasn’t able to make the session, but your synopsis and analysis was very helpful — the event sounds so interesting and I too hope to be a writer (or someone, really) who is interviewed later in life.

    I also thought that your criticism of Maria was well presented, and you gave yourself a lot of authority by saying “I don’t mean to sound so cynical.” I thought your critique was fair (though I did not attend) and it was refreshing to see someone jump out of the praise aspect for a moment. Good work.

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