Why did you become who you are?

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I had a Book Client with the Central Intelligence Agency ask me the question, “Why did you become a writer?”

 

I have answered that question a million times in television and radio interviews but also with various clients.

 

At the end of the day, I said, “I never chose writing, writing chose me. It’s my passion but it’s also my calling.”

 

When I answered the question with the CIA client, I realized that I had become a writer because of a tragedy. Like many great writers, my first book began with a tragic lesson in my life.

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“It was a little boy,” I said.

 

I was standing in the jungle, in Colombia, after an airplane crash and there was a little boy staring at me. His pain was evident. We lost hundreds on that plane and the grief stricken family members were waiting for us to deliver positive news. News that we had found their loved ones alive and safe. In the end we had located just 4 survivors and a dog, Milagro, in a tree.

 

I was without words.

 

After a decade of training in crisis management, psychology, and sales, I had no words for this boy. Hundreds of lives were lost on that airplane and we had only found 4 survivors.

 

We set up a makeshift morgue in the middle of the jungle and there was a lot of danger. Things that I cannot talk about. But I wrote a book, left most of it out, and healed my heart in the process. Writing is a great way to process pain.

 

When I relayed this to the former CIA agent of course they knew exactly what I was talking about.

 

They understood. “There’s no psychologist in the CIA to debrief you when you leave.”

 

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Today I realize that this little boy I once met in the jungle has grown to be a man. Has his sadness and loss turned to anger? Or has he gone on to become someone dedicated to changing lives?

 

I’ll never know. 

But he’s the reason I became a writer.

 

 

Tammy Kling

 

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