Lee Woodruff ’82 Hosts Book Discussion

 Lee Woodruff ’82, returned to Col-gate University on Friday, October 12 to give a lecture about her experiences in writing and publishing. Woodruff, the author of three books, the third of which, “Those We Love Most,” was just recently released, spoke about the ins and outs of writing in today’s world and offered advice to aspiring writers. She also gave a reading and did a book signing at the Colgate Bookstore.

Besides being a best-selling au-thor, Woodruff is a contributing editor to CBS This Morning, the co-founder of the Bob Woodruff Foundation and a Colgate trustee.

“Lee is the ultimate person – she is an amazing presence and we are immensely proud of her life and her work and we are happy that she got started on Third Lawrence,” Direc-tor of Creative Writing and Professor in Humanities Peter Balakian said, Woodruff’s academic advisor when she attended Colgate.

Woodruff acknowledged that Colgate continues to hold a special place in her heart and that it was where she began to fully explore her love of writing.

“I came [to Colgate] knowing that I loved writing but having no idea what I was going to do with my life. But, after falling in love in Lawrence over and over again, not only with the people I met in the English department but with books and with stories and with writing, I knew it was something I wanted to pursue.”Woodruff ‘s career as author began after 2006 when her husband, Bob Woodruff, ’83, who had recently been named co-an-chor of ABC World News Tonight, was se-verely injured while reporting in Iraq. She co-authored the best-selling memoir “In An Instant” with him, which chronicled his road to recovery and shed some light on the issue of traumatic brain injury.

Woodruff relied heavily on the ex-tensive journal she kept during her hus-band’s time in the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital to write the book. She said that during that time, writing down her feelings and what was happening was a huge comfort, and gave her a sense of control.

“It was almost a burning need, a de-sire, to write. I wanted to remember ev-erything that happened and, most impor-tantly, it was the only thing that I could control during that period,” Woodruff said in her talk. “I couldn’t change the outcome by writing but it was a therapy to just put it down on the page. In so many ways, that is what writing a story is all about.”

Woodruff ‘s second book, a collection of essays entitled “Perfectly Imperfect” was published in 2009. Her most recent book “The Things We Love Most” is her first fiction work. It which came out this summer and is currently on the New York Times best-seller list.

“The first two books I wrote were memoirs, and if you told me before that someone would care about my life, I would have thought you were crazy,” Woodruff said. “But sometimes life pro-pels you into a place you never thought you would be.”

This is the basis for “The Things We Love Most,” a work of fiction which Woodruff said was the genre she had always imagined writing. In the book, an inexplicable trag-edy has far-reaching implications for an entire family.

“I am in little pieces and shards all throughout this book. What is fun about fiction is that you can breathe life into these characters and make them do what-ever you want,” Woodruff said in her talk. “I love books which people encounter real hardships. In that way, it holds a mirror up to us and helps us to know that we can survive this, we can get through this.”

Woodruff urged aspiring writers to write their stories down, insisting that everyone has a story to share.

“You are never too young to tell your story. You don’t have to have lived this great big giant life and you don’t have to come to the end of your life to write it all down,” Woodruff said.

In her talk, Woodruff also talked about how times have changed and how modern technology has opened an entire new world. With Twitter, Facebook and blogs, the ability to market books and author’s work has exploded. These tools have also allowed writers to connect with each other and develop relationships with their audience.

Woodruff’s talk and story of release through writing struck a chord with some of young writers in attendance. First-year Lorelai Avram, who is taking a class in Creative Writ-ing, said she took a lot away from the lecture.

“Mrs. Woodruff is very inspiring and I really enjoyed when she spoke about the power of literature and the power of mem-oirs,” Avram said. “I do believe that it is the power of the written words that con-nects us to one another, that shows us real life, real things and real hardships, and gives us hope.”

And, ultimately, Woodruff seems to have captured this.

Contact Sarah Chandler at [email protected].