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Friday, May 15, 2015

Born to write, against all odds

“For me, being a writer was never a choice.  I was born one.  All through my childhood I wrote short stories and stuffed them in drawers.  I wrote on everything.  I didn’t do my homework so I could write.” – Laura Hillenbrand

Laura Hillenbrand, whose birthday is today, became the writer she felt destined to be, telling stories about two amazing sports figures from the 1930s; one the great horse Seabiscuit, the other the great Olympian Louis Zamperini. 

The first story became a bestselling book and award-winning movie simply called Seabiscuit.  The second, one of the most gripping reads of the past decade, was called Unbroken. These two books have dominated best seller lists in both hardback and paperback. Combined, they have sold more than 10 million copies.

Hillenbrand, as she says above, was born to be a writer, and that meant writing through some of the most debilitating pain and isolation a person might ever experience.  Confined to her home for years because of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, she still pressed on and created these two remarkable works.   And, she says being confined while writing helped her live her stories more completely in her mind, and she believes made them more interesting and exciting.

As she was writing, she said, “I’m looking for a way out.  I can’t have it physically, so I’m going to have it intellectually.  It was a beautiful thing to ride Seabiscuit in my imagination.  And it’s just fantastic to be there alongside Louie as he’s breaking the NCAA mile record.  People at these vigorous moments in their lives – it’s my way of living vicariously.”
Laura Hillenbrand and Louie Zamperini
I re-watched two extremely interesting interviews done by CBS News, one with Hillenbrand on “Face The Nation,” the other with Zamperini on “Sunday Morning.”  The Hillenbrand story is a terrific account of how research and the use of newspapers led to the genesis of her works.   The Zamperini story is, quite simply, just inspiring.

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