Barrett Swanson is a contributing editor at Harper’s and the author of Lost in Summerland.

“You just have to sit there for a long time. That lesson was indisputably crucial for me. Just being willing to talk to someone, even if the first half-hour or hour is unutterably boring, or it doesn’t seem pertinent. These little things, the deeper things, take a while to get at and they kind of burble to the surface at moments when you’re not totally expecting it to happen. So for me, it’s just making myself available for that moment to occur.”

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