Sunday, July 31, 2011

OMG I have to come up with an Aha Moment... STAT

Weeks ago, I was approached via email by a woman claiming to be from Mutual of Omaha. She said she had stumbled across my blog and thought I would be a good candidate to participate in their campaign, "Aha Moments", which would be coming to Peoria this week.

I was intrigued, of course, but thought it was a scam.

Apparently it's not. Here's the link:
Mutual of Omaha Aha Moment

What she asked was if I would come to their mobile studio and record a short segment on what my Aha Moment was with regards to writing. It would then be posted on their website and YouTube channel. She wanted to know: when did it hit me that I should be a writer? What was that turning point in my life? And could I say it in 60 seconds or less?

So I've been pondering this question. I was hoping to have one defining moment that would jump into the forefront of my brain, like, "I had this near-death experience and an angel who looked amazingly like Maya Angelou told me that my work on earth was not done yet, so I sat down and wrote a series of novels called Harry Potter."

No such luck.

I probably did have an Aha Moment that caused me to take the path that I did. But my personality is such that I literally have to be hit over the head by a billboard that says "AHA MOMENT" in neon letters - repeatedly. I'm a bit slow on the uptake.

So as I prepare for my little 60 seconds of fame, I'm going to jot down the series of Aha Moments that led me to do what I do today.

Flashback: 6th grade. My mom enrolls me in a creative writing class at Milliken University. While other 6th graders are on the soccer team or cheerleading or taking gymnastics, I spent my after school time on the university campus, learning to write. And I loved it.

Also 6th grade. My teacher's name is Mrs. Polite. She has curly, unruly hair like mine and she's way cool compared to the series of nuns I had had up to that point. During the year, she made us write essay after essay after essay on a variety of topics. I was on it like white on rice. Sometimes I would get "A++'s" - if that's possible. Quite an ego-boost for this gangly girl with buck teeth and eyeglasses as big as my face.

One essay in particular, "Nicholas, the Blue Pansy, and Me" was a story of how I befriended an old man sitting on a park bench. It was winter, and I would sit with him and talk day after day. Under the bench grew a blue pansy. We marveled at how it could stay alive through the cold and snow. One day, I went to the park bench and he wasn't there. I asked another gentleman where he was and he said, "He passed away." I sat down on the bench and noticed the pansy, wilted in the snow. The End.

Fast forward 35 years or so, and I happen upon an old man in a wheelchair on my daily walks (see Man on the Corner). We become friends and talk often. I drop tins of cookies on his porch at Christmas time, and baskets at Easter. The last time I saw him was shortly before I moved. He had had another stroke and was not doing well. I thought of that story. As of right now, I do not know if that pansy still blooms.

Now I don't know if that's an Aha Moment, but it's certainly a Godwink.

Professionally, I didn't really have a job as a writer, per se. I was in "marketing and media", "communications", and "advertising". It wasn't until after my divorce that I literally woke up one morning and said, "I'm going to look for a job as a copywriter." I emailed my resume to a number of agencies, and received a reply late that night from a small marketing firm in town. They had just been discussing their need for a copywriter when my resume came across their desk. The hired me several days later. Aha? Perhaps. When someone asked, "What do you do?" I could say proudly for the first time, "I'm a writer."

The last Aha Moment I can think of was the devastating day when I lost that job. I didn't know what I was going to do. But within 24 hours, I had contacted everyone I knew, started my website (Kennard Communications) and began this blog as a way of "showcasing" my writing to potential employers.

I have never felt so empowered. I began to have followers. People read me. They commented. They praised. They criticized. I didn't care. They READ me. Every once in awhile, I would interject a more personal blog in between the marketing and copywriting business posts. It was then that I began to hear the same comment over and over: "You write what I think." And I thought, "That's pretty cool."

I've been criticized for being too personal in my blogs; I mean, anyone can read them. I draw the line at naming names or badmouthing anyone, but what I say I find that others can relate to, and that gives me immense satisfaction. And I think they sense a kind of camaraderie when I write that my kids are driving me crazy or that I am going through a rough time. We all go through it. In fact, one of my posts said, "Hey, we're all in this together, right? So why not talk about it?"

I don't know if that can be classified as an Aha Moment, but I think that may be the closest thing to one. After knowing for decades that I wanted to be a writer, it took me a long time to find my writing niche. Now I find great joy in regurgitating what's in my head onto the web for others to read. Again, I don't do it for accolades. I'll never win an award. My satisfaction comes when someone writes, "Hey, what you said really helped me" or "I can relate to that and I feel the same way" or my favorite, "You write what I think."

As much as I may put it out there on paper, I'm not a fan of being in the spotlight, especially on camera. So say a little prayer for me that I don't make a fool out of myself, and that I can somehow translate what I've written above into some profound 60-seconds of something that doesn't totally suck.

4 comments:

  1. I think you just did. Try reading and working with what you put into this above and see if it comes out to 60 seconds...if not, rewrite, edit, lather, rinse, repeat. It is a brilliant story...just as you are a brilliant woman. :-)

    Prayers sent...*hugs* I know you'll do well.

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  2. I think you're awesome. Did you know if it wasn't for you, I never would have started blogging? I didn't even know it was possible for just *anyone* to have a blog. I thought you had to be an internet superstar or something. Then I met you and you liked to write and I liked to write and I thought, "hey, I can do that!" Thanks Ames!

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  3. Well? How did it go?? Was it easy? Hard? I was contacted too, made the appointment, then chickened out at the last minute. I don't have an AHA Moment I want to share just yet so I'm thrilled to hear that you went and did share yours. Please share the details!

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  4. Great story! Want to hear more story coming from you again.

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