Our Only Currency

Writers traffic in the most universal of all human currency: feelings. The question every writer must ask about every scene or sonnet is, What does this moment or idea feel like? Does it feel happy or tense or funny or sad or boring? What is happening is largely irrelevant. Events are merely vessels for the feeling contained within them. But this is true of everyone, writers and non-writers alike. I have heard it said that everyone is selling something, and isn’t that something happiness? Isn’t the job of the advertiser to convince us that this chewing gum or hybrid car or life insurance will somehow make us happier? There is no other reason we would want it.

Sometimes, however, we sell unhappiness. We do this for the good of our fellow man, who have been lulled – largely by all those people running around selling happiness – into believing the world is in far better shape than it actually is. We might say, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention!” Or, “Silence equals death!” Though the world will sometimes shoot the messenger, the message must be delivered all the same, lest the happiness we all crave remain nothing but an illusion peddled by hucksters.

I would love nothing more than for all my readers to feel happier when they have finished one of my stories than when they began, but there are days I feel like a huckster myself. Happiness is something I invented to relieve the boredom and terror of life, a snake oil for the gullible and lonely. Trust me, is all I can offer. Yet what else can I offer? Happiness, the gold that would fill the purse of every soul on earth, remains forever a thing unseen and untouched. Instead, it can only be known as the imagination knows itself, and then shared with a world made richer by gaining what it cannot count.


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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