Over Saturday afternoon coffee, my friend asks me, have I ever heard of a Buddhist economy?

A Buddhist economy, she tells me, is when a country’s happiness is measured not by its gross domestic product, but by its gross domestic happiness. This is a real thing. There are rubrics and questionnaires, asking you things like how much do you sleep, how satisfied are you with your life, do you find meaning in your work? There is a happiness census. There is a survey.

The Gross National Happiness survey wants to know, for example, if you have any serious conditions, impairments…

I was recently struggling with the revision of a short story when I came across a passage in Wendy Lesser’s book, “Why I Read: The Serious Pleasure of Books.” In it, specifically in a passage about literary authority, Lesser writes that a great first line “is like a beacon sun from afar, an instantly recognizable source of hope.”

A beacon sun? A source of hope? That’s feels like a lot of pressure, especially since I’m just hoping to bang out a decent-enough story.

But of course, a decent story never gets retold — or, more accurately, remembered — if it…

I love Richard Ford.

First of all, he’s wickedly good looking (Google it) and second of all, his writing is direct, unadorned, and gut-punch powerful. He’s a master of narrative and of understanding the subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) moments that infiltrate and eventually break to pieces the institutions we hold most sacred: childhood, marriage, family. When he was still quite young, his parents died and he was sent to live with his grandfather in a 600 room hotel in Little Rock, Arkansas. His grandfather owned and managed the hotel, and Ford helped. This is what he says of that experience:

Katherine Van Dis

Writer, fiction writer, mom of two, Durham, NC enthusiast since 2001. Here, I write non-fiction on mom-ing, yoga, writing + craft, and the writing life.

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