The Costa Concordia was a luxury cruise ship that sank in the Mediterranean Sea on January 13, 2012. People died and some crew members will be in court for years as they defend many different charges including abandoning the ship and its survivors. The great majority of people who were on board on that night will spend the rest of their lives living and retelling the events of that night and in many cases, will allow their lives to be defined by the tragedy.
It has been my honour to work with one of the survivors for several months on a book about not only the event itself, but its aftermath and her experience. It reminds me that writers are often created as a result of circumstances. They are forged from a passion to share a story and leave a legacy. The tools of a good writer are not grammar, punctuation and spelling but rather challenge, perception, and the ability to grasp opportunity and follow it through.
We often refer to "our gifts," or "God's gifts" and spend much time thinking and talking about what they are and who has them. I have begun to realize that these gifts are not necessarily something we receive as a birthright but rather, come out of challenging circumstances and events. We see stories about people rising out of the ashes of war, poverty, drugs, abuse, and more to rise to positions of authority and success. The circumstances of their life gave rise to opportunities, opportunities that they pursued and completed - this is their gift.
My client, who has become a friend, Andrea has done the same as a survivor of the Costa Concordia. She could have spent the rest of her life accepting the events of a cold plunge into the dark Mediterranean waters on a January night and the changes that have followed. Instead, she decided that she wanted to leave a legacy to her family and friends and chronicle the sinking, the incredible will to survive that saved she and her husband, the painful swim and trek over sharp rocks in bare feet and the many happy, scary, and fitful challenges that continue to cause restless nights. She accepted the opportunity of the sinking as a gift and is very close to offering her gift to the world in the form a book.
Andrea is in the initial stages of discussions with a publisher but she has written her story, assembled the pictures, letters, media interviews and used the opportunity to look back at her many gifts, including the gift of life itself. She continues to experience physical pain and mental torment but refuses to allow these things to define her life. She is moving forward and creating a new definition by creating the gifts of "published author," speaker, survivor, and traveller to change her world.
These are the gifts that define a writer - challenges that include opportunities but the most important "gift" is the gift we give ourselves of following through on the opportunity and living our life, completing our life.

Congratulations Andrea - you inspire us.