Word By Word

Several years ago I came to a decision. I looked back at my life and realized that nothing had ever happened to me: everything I had ever experienced was a product of what I chose to think or chose to do. This seemed profound to me. My choices mattered—all of them, every word, every action, every thought. And if it was true for me, it was certainly true for other people. About this time I visited a very old friend of mine in Los Angeles. For two days we drove around sight seeing while I talked and talked about all I had learned. I liked to talk, and on this weekend, my friend was willing to listen. At one point, my friend turned to me and said, “You know what you should do, Bill? You should be one of those guys on PBS who talks to people about life.”

And I thought, “I think he’s right. But how in the world do I get there? I’m an unemployed writer. That seems like a huge distance to travel, and I’m quite sure there are no roadmaps.” Still, a small voice in me said, “Wait. It’ll come.”

And so I did. By and by, because of what I had begun to write, opportunities to speak presented themselves. I took every single opportunity, from introducing writers at meetings, to speaking to small conferences, to blog talk radio—if there was as microphone, I would talk into it. Recently, after one such opportunity that was particularly well-attended, I thought, “I do enough of these, I might end up on PBS.”

A part of me wonders, like a happy, Bizzaro World character from that Talking Heads song, “How did I get here?” If someone were to ask me, I could only answer, “Say what you believe, and say it as often as you can.”

I cannot outline when I write. Instead, I ask myself, word-by-word, “Does this feel like a part of this story? Does this scene, this paragraph, this sentence, this word, move the story in the direction I believe it wants to go?” And isn’t that all I’ve asked with my life? Does this choice move me in a direction I want to go? If it doesn’t, then perhaps the next one will. And so I go, choice by choice, word by word, and when I look up I always seem to be somewhere I want to be.

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

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You can find Bill at: williamkenower.com

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