True Connection

The audience can be like a competitor. My ideas for stories begin where there is no thought of a reader. I am completely alone with these ideas as I try to find them in a way that they will make sense to me.

Read More
William KenowerComment
An Audience Of One

I was giving a talk recently to a group of local parents. Good public speaker that I am, I have trained myself to scan the faces of the entire crowd. On this evening I noticed one woman sitting dead center to me. From word one, she was yawning.

Read More
William KenowerComment
Worlds Apart

Before I could have any success as a writer I had to get over the idea that in order to do so I had to be special. From the outside, this seemed empirically, quantifiably true. I read some writers whose work reminded me why life was worth living, who could snap me to attention with one sentence, who seemed to write with such clarity that I could recognize myself in their stories. Other writers bored me, or irritated me, or seemed to be telling stories that somehow I’d already heard.

Read More
William KenowerComment
The Real World

I’ve been telling stories since I learned to talk, and I have learned in that time that no matter how good a story might be I cannot tell it compellingly or authoritatively until I’m lined up with it.

Read More
William KenowerComment
Story Time

Whether you call yourself a writer or not, you’re a storyteller. Stories are how we communicate with each other, and how we understand the world and ourselves. And perhaps more importantly, we are also all living in a kind of storybook of our own creation, filled with our own villains and heroes, our own monsters and saints, and our own idea of whether this story can end happily or not.

Read More
Special People

I studied philosophy for the first time when I was a freshman in college. Before then, the most I knew about philosophers was from the Monty Python’s Philosopher’s Song. After a few months of study I had an epiphany. “All philosophers do,” I realized, “is look around at the world and then write down what they think about it. Why read what other people think? Why not write down what I think?”

Read More
William KenowerComment
Release

Michelangelo supposedly said of his sculpture “David” that he did not carve the figure but released it from the marble. I’ve heard a number of writers quote this when talking about finding their stories – specifically fiction. It is a helpful way to look at writing, I think: the view that the stories we want to tell already exist, and we just need to put them into a form that everyone can see.

Read More
William KenowerComment
Real Security

For a short time in my early twenties I thought I might want to be an actor. I was performing in a show I’d written with my brother, and I became increasingly interested in how you find and then stay in character. Even though it was a sketch comedy show and my characters were mostly clownish versions of myself, there was still a difference between what I inhabited on stage and what I inhabited offstage. I wanted the character to be as real as I was; I didn’t want the audience to ever see me “acting.”

Read More
Mid-Life

The first writer I ever heard give a talk was Larry McMurtry, whose Pulitzer Prize-winning epic Lonesome Dove I had devoured in a particularly fallow week while drifting jobless through the suburban wastes of Glendale, CA. I had since moved to Seattle where my then fiancé and I went to see him at the University of Washington. I was twenty-five, and just begun my first novel.

Read More
Lighted Travel

I’ve noticed that if I’m flipping through television channels looking for something to watch, and I happen on a scene where a man has a gun pointed at someone’s face, I usually pause in my flipping. The same is true if I land on a scene of a man and woman in the act. In both cases I know absolutely nothing about the context for what I am seeing. I don’t know if the man with the gun is a villain or a hero, if he’s crazed or courageous; I also don’t if the man and the woman are in love or if they’ve just met at a bus stop. All I know is that someone might die, or that two people are having sex.

Read More
Just Words

My younger brother and I were both interested as boys in the arts, but whereas I was drawn to the page he was drawn to the stage and eventually the screen. We were talking about our separate choices one day, and he admitted he was somewhat puzzled by mine. “I don’t get it, Bill,” he said. “With books all you get are words.”

Read More
William KenowerComment
The Explorer

When I was a young man I was very interested in making my way in the world. There was something adventurous about learning how to succeed as an adult. Childhood felt a little pre-constructed, plopped as you are into your parents’ full lives and then sent to schools with their uniformity of ambition. Adulthood had no such boundaries, it seemed to me.

Read More