Ohio. A snowy Sunday afternoon with temperatures dropping into the teens and an inch or two of accumulation. The sun sets at 5:40pm and the moon is in its final quarter.

With each passing year, the tension becomes more pronounced between the new and the unfinished. More and more, I feel the weight of decision: create new work and pursue fresh ideas—or devote my time, which dwindles by the minute, to refining, completing, and sometimes relitigating my half-finished projects from the past. All those drafts and fragments, the notebooks filled with half-legible scribbles and pages scrawled when waking from a dream—I could spend the rest of my life tending to them.

Perhaps there comes a time to draw a bright line, stuff the past in the trash, and trust these old ideas will live on in whatever comes next. It’d be nice to feel a little lighter, to live free from the muck of stalled manuscripts and half-laid plans. But I’ve learned by now that the clean slate is a fantasy, and the tabula rasa is the domain of zealots.

Meanwhile, the snow outside my window is melting as soon as it piles up, and there might be a lesson here.