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Chasing Down The Muse: Last 11 years have meant a lot

August 25, 2011|By Catharine Cooper

"If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story."

—Orson Welles

This week, the editor of the Coastline Pilot and its family of papers, John Canalis, wrote to inform me that my column was being shelved for the time being.

I've thought long and hard about what this means. After 11 years of connection to and with the Laguna Beach community, my first sense is one of loss.

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"Chasing Down the Muse" was originally a column about how to be creative. It grew under the watchful "tongues" of me and Cherril Doty into a forum about community issues. We expanded our conversation to include the environment, local (and not so local) politics, ocean protection, travel bits, arts issues and Laguna's social scene. We've covered stories of family and our friends — with a Laguna Beach slant.

Since 2000, we've survived the ownership and name changes to our local paper, distribution issues, as well as multiple editors.

My first touch with the news scene was in 1962 at Thurston Intermediate School, which was then located across from the Laguna Beach High School. Ed McFarland was the journalism instructor, and he turned a motley crew of students into cub reporters, layout artists and distributors for the Thurston Tide & Times.

High school led to the Brush and Palate, and after a stint in college (with no paper affiliation) I landed my first paying newspaper job — hand-laying cold type for advertisements in the Glendale News-Press.

I've celebrated some peak personal moments as a writer for the Coastline Pilot.

Around the time of the Iraq invasion, a column that appeared on these pages, "Time to speak out for humankind," April 25, 2003, was appropriated by numerous online publications. Common Dreams.org was the first to republish the piece, followed by groups and sites like Veterans Against the War and Truth Out.

For a while, my writing seemed to go viral. A young student in Norway contacted me, and shared that he and his class had read my piece on the Internet. They wanted permission to use the column as a teaching tool about democracy.

I was stunned that words from a small coastal newspaper could travel so far and carry such impact. I was humbled by their request.

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