Ayn Rand reads aloud her short story “The Simplest Thing in the World” which begins: “Henry Dorn sat at his desk and looked at a sheet of blank paper.” Written in 1940, this is a first-person narrative of a struggling writer trying desperately to write a story that he can sell. While grappling with the mindset of a public that criticized his first novel, he sits down to write something “simple” and “human,” something that will make him the money he needs so he can write the stories he really wants to write.

Rand wrote this story while she was engrossed in planning and writing The Fountainhead, which was published in 1943 after being rejected by some twelve publishers. Ayn Rand later said that the story “illustrates the nature of the creative process—the way in which an artist’s sense of life directs the integrating function of his subconscious and controls his creative imagination.”