Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Last Lecture: Storytelling when it's inconvenient for you and when it matters most

Randy Pausch is what most writers and story-pitchers look for in a subject. He has an inspiring story to share that benefits others but isn't easy for him to tell. For difficult stories and times like his, doors regularly slam in reporters faces when they try to talk to someone who's lost someone in an accident or actually has something to lose if their story goes to print.

Dying but writing how to live
But not Mr. Pausch. This is probably the worst time for him, but he's writing. He's dying of pancreatic cancer, but wants his three young children, to someday read about how he truly felt about them. The book is called The Last Lecture and is based on life lessons, references to his children from a lecture he did at Carnegie Mellon University.

Telling your story when it isn't convenient
For now, Pausch and his wife don't want their children to know he's dying. Watercooler talk says experts have told the parents that it's easier on children to not know a parent is dying until he or she actually appears seriously ill. As Pausch makes the media rounds, TV and newspaper interviews, I wonder how he shields his children from the news and from blabber mouths at school and daycare.

Anyone have other examples?
OK, writers, when has someone told you a difficult story for print at a bad time in their lives? What was the story?

For the USA Today story on Pausch, visit http://www.usatoday.com/life/books/news/2008-04-07-pausch_N.htm. This is about a month old. I recently heard about it from a fellow book club member. And I hope it's our next read.

For a day to day update on Pausch's progress:http://download.srv.cs.cmu.edu/~pausch/news/index.html

For the video of the "last lecture" he gave his students at Carnegie Mellon University about living a good life, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji5_MqicxSo

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How inspiring Randy Pausch is! If you liked "The Last Lecture", another fantastic memoir I just read and highly recommend is "My Stroke of Insight" by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor. Her TEDTalk video (ted.com) has been seen as many times as The Last Lecture I think, and Oprah did 4 shows on her book, so there are a lot of similarities. In My Stroke of Insight, there's a happy ending though. It's an incredible story! I hear they're making it into a movie.