Happy birthday, West Wing! Seventeen years ago today, the greatest TV show on earth made its debut. It's changed my life and that of countless others - see thewestwingbook.com for more stories (oh, and hey, the ebook is just 99 cents today!). Here are some ways it's impacted me:
  1. It showed me that English can be beautiful.
    I wrote prolifically as a child and pre-teen, and I was relatively good at it. But my first language is French, and so when we moved from Belgium to England and my French started to rust, my writing went down the pan too. English didn't inspire me in the same way. Aaron Sorkin showed me that English could be beautiful too. I started reading prolifically and...
  2. It made me want to write and still fuels my creativity.
    Seven years later, I've written four novels - all of which owe at least part of their inspiration to the West WIng. I've had work published in various places - and my biggest byline, at the Washington Post, was a piece about The West Wing. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/im-the-biggest-west-wing-fan-youll-ever-meet/2014/09/19/9ad6933a-3dd9-11e4-b03f-de718edeb92f_story.html
  3. It made me want to move to DC.
    Because of the show, I visited the US, and specifically Washington, and fell in love. I've lived here for four years and I love it, love it. Really hoping my visa comes through and I can stay for another three years!
  4. It introduced me to new friends.
    Thanks to online forums of various kinds - Facebook and Twitter, principally - I ended up becoming friends with other fans of the show, not just online but in real life too.
  5. It reawakened my political zeal.
    I had been passionately political in my late teens and early twenties but had kind of forgotten about all that. The West Wing awoke my idealistic leftie heart.
  6. It inspired me to aim high.
    These were people with a mission. I wanted a mission too and I wanted to pursue it whole-heartedly. It's an ethos that really started as a feeling in a pit of my belly rather than anything I could have articulated. This show inspires me to greatness in all kinds of ways.
  7. It has taught me so much.
    I knew nothing, and I really do mean nothing, about American politics when I started the show. Inspired by The West Wing, I have learned a lot - read books, listened to podcasts, taken classes. But I've also learned about speechwriting and plays and musicals and American history more broadly and all the random trivia Aaron Sorkin likes to pepper into his scripts.