Stephanie Powell Watts Recommends...

“In times of struggle, sadness and turmoil, personal or political, I find it hard to concentrate on writing. Writing feels useless and indulgent at the same time. It is precisely at that moment when I am hurting the most that I try to remember to take a breath and give myself a moment to grieve. Then I read and write to cast off the pain (or worse, the numbness) that comes with the realization of the limits of my power. Reconnecting to art and to writing helps me believe in the goodness of other people. When I prove to myself that I can be empathetic and interested, I become less isolated in the present and far less afraid of the future. I start to believe again that other people are also empathetic and interested, even if it doesn’t always seem like it. This process is not easy when I am way, way down. I feel like I’m a kid (and not in a good way) and starting all over again with a new practice—five minutes a day, ten minutes a day, scheduling absolutely-you-will-write-times during the day, doing exercises to just get my mind moving. In those moments just writing anything is a victory. I think often to my son’s life and what I hope he sees and what I hope he appreciates about the world he knows. Eventually I build back up to a schedule and a routine. And every time I feel defeated, writing reassures me that there is no shame in loving something and no shame in being sad to see whatever you love threatened. Writing helps me remember that there is still something to reach out for even when I feel in my darkest place.”
—Stephanie Powell Watts, author of No One Is Coming to Save Us (Ecco, 2017)