“Our present moment is in turmoil. It’s understandable that I have felt frozen in place, unable to take action, to set my mind in order. What act of creation should I pursue; what matters most to me, to humanity?
Even in times of chaos, when we cannot envision the future, it is possible to make sense of the past. To reanimate my practice, get out of a turbid state, I reach into the deepest corner of my hard drive to extract the oldest piece of unpolished ore—the earliest unfinished essay or short story I can find. I look for something that represents my most elemental attempt at self-expression. This is especially rewarding in the middle of a long project, such as a novel, when it’s necessary for a short period to emerge from underground and clear my mind. I give myself the task of finishing something in a short period of time: a day, at most a week. It’s easier if I have a ready-made starting place, like a rough draft.
Each finished piece of writing is a record of my growth, proof that I’ve learned something. It’s a map of my journey across the mountain from chaos to understanding; the road to a new facet of my perspective. Always, when I look back, I see something I couldn’t have when I began.”
—Sarah Gerard, author of True Love (Harper, 2020)