The Life Within

I discovered James Joyce’s Ulysses in my early twenties in large part because of the book’s reputation as a marginally unreadable tour de force. It’s not the sort of book you snuggle up with in front of the fire, being 600 pages long and chronicling one day in the lives of two men in Dublin in 1904. Not a lot happens, which is part of why I so enjoyed it. I liked that Joyce paid such close attention to the smallest experiences, that he was able to show me – no, remind me that when viewed with love and care every single moment, no matter how mundane, mattered.

I can’t be reminded of this often enough. My life’s pretty mundane, honestly, which is apparently how I prefer it. It’s easier to focus. The four walls that make up a life, the boundaries of my little world, are in the end illusory. Tempted as I often am to knock them down, to feel imprisoned by the cramped circumference of my daily route, it is sometimes good to be reminded that the only journey I have ever wanted to take begins and ends in exactly the same place.

Which is to say, the writing life, as I have understood it, has always been the life within. This is a reality with which I am still coming to terms after fifty-two years on this planet. I still kind of hope that what I’m looking for is out there somewhere – out there on the field of play, out there on the stage, on the book tour. It is easy to get lost out there when you’re looking for something where it isn’t.

On the other hand, the moment I find the right story, the right sentence, or the right word I am home. It is true that the storyteller’s imagination allows for limitless journeys, whether around Dublin or to distant planets, but the imagination’s greatest expanse is its portability. It’s with me everywhere always. It’s with me in grief and in boredom and in rage. It’s with me every single mundane moment, waiting and alive, a direct portal to the center of life.

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual and group coaching.

 

Fearless Writing: How to Create Boldly and Write With Confidence.
You can find William at: williamkenower.com

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A Perfect Companion

Every story, play, poem or essay is a journey home. Only the author knows where home is. He knew where home was the moment he set out, though in finding it again, he will know it better than before he left.

Along the way, the author will become lost in details and the endless choices open to him. At such times it will seem as though he has forgotten what home looks and feels like. In this dream of forgetting he might believe he does not actually know where he is going or how to get there. He will look to the world to tell him. The world is fantastically accurate at telling you where you are. There are landmarks and road signs; there are friends and even strangers who will tell you also. But if you ask those friends or strangers, “How do I get home?” they will begin describing the route they know to the home they know. To follow these directions is to become more lost than before.

Now the author might begin to hate the world. It and all its people are useless to him, and have abandoned him in this hour of need. He sees that the world is devoid of meaning and purpose, a giant rock where life is born just to die, and every road bends back on itself. He’s through with the world. He is done looking to it for anything.

Yet even in what he calls giving up, he discovers that he is not done looking. In fact, with his mind at rest and his attention with nowhere else to go, he soon finds the trail he’d left. Suddenly the world is useful again, telling him in one glimpse where he is in relation to where he wants to go. The world is a perfect companion, he thinks as he sets off again. It leaves him alone, but never leaves him, until he has found again his garden gate, and his wandering for the day is done.

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual and group coaching.

 

Fearless Writing: How to Create Boldly and Write With Confidence.
You can find William at: williamkenower.com

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The Immeasurable World

My only job on this planet, from dawn to dusk, is so simple it often eludes me. A busy and fussy part of me does not trust such simplicity. This is Bill The Engineer, who must construct his entire world from all its disparate pieces. Bill The Engineer is keenly aware of the complex integrity of stable structures, and Bill The Engineer must live in a solid house where all his doors close firmly against the wind he can neither summon nor dismiss.

Yet it has never been my job to build my home, my only job is to return to it. Within the home I cannot make exists not the comfort of the hearth or the bed, but the knowing of value that surpasses measurement. Bill The Engineer must measure before he knows. He finds comfort only in the precision of his instruments and the formulas to which those measurements can be ritualistically applied. The immeasurable is but a fairy tale to him; within his knowing nothing can be made from that which cannot be measured, and so that which is immeasurable is unreal and does not exist.

There is no arguing with Bill The Engineer; argument is his favorite means of communication. All that can be done is to return home, to cross the threshold that is the actual boundary between the real and the unreal. Once home, Bill The Engineer vanishes like a thought. Once home, I feel again the comfort of the immeasurable: for that whose value cannot be measured cannot be compared; that whose value which cannot be measured cannot be lost or broken; that whose value cannot be measured is a well with no bottom.

To dwell here is to stand at the river’s mouth from which all creation flows. Here is where the world is actually made. Here is the only reality, where the lies of loss, brokenness, and comparison are dispelled. To write a story from such a place is to offer a way home to yourself and another. This is my only job – to awaken again and again from the fantasy of the measured world and find my way back to the reality that imagined it.

9781935961994-Perfect_CS.indd

Write Within Yourself: An Author’s Companion.

A book to keep nearby whenever your writer’s spirit needs feeding.” Deb Caletti.

You can find Bill at: williamkenower.com

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Home Free

The writer can spend a lot of time locked in a prison called The Future. There waits acceptance or rejections, reviews and sales. I have dwelt there often. So often, in fact, that I can forget that it is not real, that my suffering and triumphs are all stories I am telling myself from that stage called The Present.

And not one of my predictions – not one – has ever come true. They cannot. What I foresee is merely a shadow of what will come, the same as the stories I tell are suggestions of a whole the reader must complete in their own imagination. When the actual, living moment arrives, whatever I predicted will be incomplete compared to life as it will be led. Life is composed of infinite detail, each as important as the next. If it is impossible for us to know the entire present, how can we possibly know the future?

Still, we try – or at least I do. I try and try until I feel trapped in a nameless and insidious suffering. If am trapped, then I must get out, but every effort to escape only makes this prison more real and more unbearable. I build the walls even as I try to climb them.

It is easy to forget that it is freedom I seek, not escape. To live free of the future or the past is to arrive suddenly at your own doorstep. Perhaps you fear it. After all, to enter is a kind of death, for everything you have made in the past cannot follow you into your home, and all the nightmares and circuses and parades you’ve dreamed for yourself will vanish in your awakening.

9781935961994-Perfect_CS.inddWrite Within Yourself: An Author’s Companion.
A book to keep nearby whenever your writer’s spirit needs feeding.” Deb Caletti.

Remember to catch Bill every Tuesday at 2:00 PM PST/5:00 EST on his live Blogtalk Radio program Author2Author!
You can find Bill at: williamkenower.com
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