Passion and Storytelling

I’ve been collecting a few Guest Posts from fellow bloggers on the subject of Passion, whether literary or personal, which I’ll be posting regularly on a Thursday. If you would like to contribute, please drop me a line at kasia_oz (at) hotmail (dot) com.

Today we have a wonderful post from Annie K. Johnson at Chompasuarus Reviews, who both reviews books, interviews authors, and holds great writing competitions! I’d encourage you to check out Chompasaurus Reviews.

Hope you enjoy Annie’s Passion Post.

While I was in college studying statistics and social science, I came to a point where I needed to start taking elective courses to finish the social science end of my studies. I decided on Global Terrorism because it was at a convenient time for my schedule. I didn’t have to come to campus on Fridays, which was just fine by me.

I will never forget my Global Terrorism class. It had turned out to be one of my favorite classes, though it was the least relevant to my degree. My professor was a globally recognized expert on terrorism and had served as an advisor to the United Nations. In fact, about a year after I took that class with him, he left his position as a professor to serve as a terrorism advisor to President Bush.

You wouldn’t have been able to tell just how much political clout this man had by the way he acted. He had something of a Irish accent and a bushy reddish brown beard, which he tugged at as he spoke to the class. His button-up shirt was only partially tucked into his pants with a belt haphazardly thrown through the loops. His first lesson was on how aggression is displayed by social creatures. He explained this by describing fights between dogs.

When a dog is aggressive, it will bare its teeth and growl. The dogs will size each other up to see if they might have a chance at winning the fight. One may back down by behaving in a submissive fashion, or they may decide to fight. During the course of a fight, a dog may thrust its head upward to bare its throat to the attacker as a sign that it has been beaten and cedes the fight. My professor though did not just explain this to us, he acted it out. There he was, in front of sixty students barking, growling, and rolling onto his back with the podium pushed all the way to the side of the lecture floor.

When he spoke, his passion was obvious in his voice and his wild gestures. He talked at length, not just about conflicts that led to terrorist attacks, but on the relationships and the context of these groups, where they had come from, and what made them want to fight. When he spoke about guerrilla warfare, he accompanied his stories with sound effects and vivid imagery, as if he had been right there himself (and, in some cases, he had been). He talked about the Weather Underground, the IRA, and Mao Zedong as if he had known them for years.

Each lecture, he delivered the lesson with such energy and enthusiasm, that whenever you looked around the lecture hall, you would see a full class. People even brought friends to sit in for a lecture. Within a few weeks, there were people standing up in the back and sitting in the aisles, all there to listen to the professor speak. No one smiled or laughed, everyone had their eyes trained on the professor as they listened to him talk. His passion for the subject was what led to his massive knowledge of terrorism and his ability to connect with others when teaching the subject.

This professor, in my opinion, is the prime example of what passion can do for your career and even your life. It’s about being obsessed and excited, totally consumed by something, and unable to feel satiated. Passion is always wanting more. That is perhaps why he was a professor, even as incredibly overqualified as he was. He enjoyed telling these stories and sharing his educated views so much that he needed a forum through which to do it. Passion won’t always lead to fame and riches, but it is the difference between knowing where you want to end up and being happy with it and being directionless. I encourage every writer and budding author to be like my professor – find that one thing that you can’t get enough of and pursue it full force. Plaster it on your walls and allow yourself to jump in with both feet. Not everyone will appreciate your writing, but you will speak to what is true in yourself and those who do connect with your work in the same way will feel just the same.


Follow Annie:
Twitter: @Chompasaurus

4 thoughts on “Passion and Storytelling

  1. reminds me of a story my old martial arts instructor used about passion and intent. Why do we back up from a snarling little dog? We are fifty times larger and one kick could solve the problem. But we back up because he is passionate with intent and we are not, so we retreat.

  2. Pingback: Passion and Storytelling Guest Post on Writer’s Block Blog | Chompasaurus Reviews

  3. Wow Annie that is amazing great memory. I love a teacher that can hold his/her students attention in an unconventional manner. I especially love a teacher that enjoys teaching and that passions they feel is displayed in everything they do.

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