Emily Bernard

“When the words won’t come, I take my work for a walk. Literally, I put pages in my pocket and take a hike in an unfamiliar place. The idea is that both me and my writing could use the stretch of a new environment. Put your hand on it every day, no matter what, is my philosophy. Sometimes this only means taking pages with me in the car while I am out doing errands. If I need an extra jump, I will find ways to look at the story in a new light, again, literally. I have been saved more than once by the glowing white Formica tabletops and vivid lighting in the Starbucks at our neighborhood grocery store. The performance of mundane tasks can help unclog me. Something about the way your brain relaxes while you wash dishes or fold clothes—it works. It also helps, I find, to bring someone else into your misery. Making a pledge to someone, for instance, about a targeted word or page count—particularly if it’s someone you’re a little bit afraid of—can be very inspiring! Most important is faith. Stay close to the story and, ultimately, it will return to you.”
—Emily Bernard, author of Black Is the Body: Stories From My Grandmother’s Time, My Mother’s Time, and Mine (Knopf, 2019)

Writer Photo: 
Writer Photo Credit: 
Stephanie Seguino
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  • March 21, 2019