My oldest son was drafted by the New York Yankees. Not once, but twice. I told him, “Make sure your baseball story has a happy ending because you'll be telling it for the rest of your life.” That's the power of storytelling.
The power of storytelling is so strong that one person's life tale is often inescapably tied to their story, good or bad. My son never went to the majors, but he had a great college baseball career. He can tell his story with pride. He chose a college education over a small-time career in the minors.
I am particularly conscious of how one's life story goes. As a longtime newspaper columnist, I sum up the lives of people in 900 words or less. It's a tremendous responsibility, especially now that the Internet can keep stories alive forever.
When I speak to audiences and share the power of storytelling, I share the stories of my life and others. It's important that I am accurate.
— vicburkhammer (@vicburkhammer) March 18, 2015
The best stories are, of course, about people, about people who face incredible odds and somehow overcome. I like those stories because they show the rest of us how to live.
The subject of this particular profile is someone who got screwed by the establishment, but he didn't give up.
Read my dramatic profile: “Campaign ethics charges, Tarrant DA conflicts followed marital dispute.”
It's almost unfair to sum up a person's life in a few words. As a writer and storyteller I have to do the best I can. After much thought, here's how I opened this sad story:
“Mario X. Perez went from the highest of the highs to the lowest of the lows.
“He was a politically active Latino lawyer who promoted Hispanic candidates in Tarrant County.
“He worked for the powerful Linebarger tax collection firm, helping gain government tax collection contracts worth millions.
“He was an associate judge in the small Fort Worth suburb of Forest Hill and also the state chairman of Common Cause, a liberal activist group that promotes campaign finance reform, among other causes.
“And Perez was married to a dentist, with whom he had kids.
“A pretty perfect life for a young political activist on the move. Onward and upward.
“Then it crashed in a very big way.
“He was involved in a divorce.
“He was indicted.
“He was fired.
“How it happened is a previously untold tale of how politics offers up winners, but also losers, too. Those who play in the mud should expect to get dirty.”
My goal is to tease you with enough information to get you to read more. I know folks got to the end. How do I know? Simple. If a story reads like a movie screenplay with forward-moving dramatic action, people will spend the time.
That's the best kind of story. The kind of story that makes us care.
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Dave Lieber. Authentic. Engaging. Interactive.
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