Thursday, September 3, 2009

Life Changing Moments

In April 2005, my husband came home from work and said, “Honey, I think I’m going to quit my job and run for U.S. Congress.” That was a life changing moment. After winning a heated primary, he came very close to unseating the incumbent in the general election. I’m so proud of him.

After several years, I am still processing this incredible experience, full of campaign events with many high profile leaders, including President Bush, First Lady Laura Bush, Vice President Cheney, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Senator John McCain, and even Mike Ditka. I invite you to put any partisanship aside as I share some personal moments from the campaign trail. I promise to tie all of this into writing a novel.

It’s funny what I recall and learned during this 18 month campaign – many lessons involved high heels. In the summer of 2005, my family and I walked in countless Fourth of July parades. Trust me. Never wear high heels on a parade route. Also, never wear high heel sandals when you’re walking through a kitchen with the Secret Service. I slipped on some cooking oil or something that had fallen onto the floor. I went gliding toward a near wipe-out.

On a serious side note, I will always treasure a true moment of history. A dear friend of mine is Lisa Jefferson, the operator who took the phone call from Todd Beamer on the United flight 93 on September 11th. She wrote an incredible book entitled, Called. I was surprised when I heard that Mayor Giuliani and Lisa Jefferson - both heroes on that fateful day, had never met each other. When Giuliani came to Chicago to campaign for my husband, I invited Lisa Jefferson to the event. In a private moment, I introduced these two wonderful people.

Perhaps in other blogs, I will share additional highlights and lowlights from the campaign trail – if you’re interested. But for now I want to focus on novels and life changing moments. My novel opens with the following scene: My 33 year old character receives a letter from her birth grandmother asking to meet with her. The challenge I, and all of us writers, face is how to present emotional drama without being too dramatic or maudlin. Maybe the answer is to insert the “high heel” factor. Something uncomfortable that the character is enduring or discovering can still provide some levity. (However, I vow that I will never subject any of my characters to my own humiliation of sliding across a greasy kitchen floor.)

What have some of your life changing moments been, and how have you applied those experiences to your own writing?

Take-away Tidbits:
This past week, I heard a tip from a wonderful suspense novelist. Colleen Coble recommends getting the DVD The Hero’s 2 Journeys by Michael Hauge and Christopher Vogler. This DVD presents the two journeys a hero must take: Physical and Emotional and provides instructive writing techniques. Colleen heard Michael Hauge at a seminar and said this DVD changed how she looks at story.

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