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  • Writer's pictureDustin Hendrick

Greetings from the bunker

And by “bunker” I mean the converted guest bedroom that now functions as my office/library/panic room/gym/occasional actual bedroom. Never has this space been more valuable than in the past few weeks.

Thanks so very much for all the love in these past few days since The Endless M was released. The feeling of having a book out in the world is a strange one indeed: a mix of elation and anxiety and pride and maybe a drop or two of abject, throat-constricting terror. My book contains a number of details and experiences from my own life that I haven’t shared with most, so I suppose a level of apprehension at feeling exposed is normal. But what can I do now? It’s a done deal. It’s out there, whether I want it to be or not. All I can do now is wish it well and do my best to promote it and move on to new things, new writing, new projects.

Speaking of new writing, I have been doing just that. My husband and I just finished the script for the pilot episode of a television series we’ve been dreaming on and ruminating on for two years now, which feels good. We also polished up a short proof-of-concept script for a feature film we wrote together a few years ago. My husband’s work is at a standstill for now, like so many professions, which sucks but also gives us more time to write together (which is probably when we like each other the most.) My heart goes out to those struggling because of the numerous shutdowns, and to those struggling on other levels during these strange and stressful times.

My own job in healthcare has only gotten busier. Again, no shock there. Everyone in the field -- nurses, doctors, administration, everyone else -- are all scrambling to manage in the face of the pandemic. It’s real and it’s scary, but I will say this: hospitals are frequently viper’s nests of inflated egos and undermining and unnecessary pissing contests (and I do include myself in this, try as I might to be nice), but in this time of crisis I’ve seen a lot of working together. I’ve seen a lot of helping and caring for each other in ways that we might not have otherwise. Maybe that’s the silver lining to all of this. I dislike the notion of universal silver linings (in truth, I completely despise the notion.) Some situations are just horrible and stupid and there’s no good to be found. But maybe this situation has one. Maybe it reminds us that we’re all in the same fucking boat after all.

That’s the hopeful side of me writing that last thing. The other side of me declines to respond at present. It would upset the children.

I’ve been reading a lot more than usual, as I’m sure many of us are. Somehow I’ve slipped into a Joan Didion mode. She isn’t known for her uplifting writing, so why I’ve turned to her stark and often fatalistic prose in a time like this, when I should probably be reading things that keep my spirits up, is beyond me. But that’s where I’m at. I re-read Play It as It Lays, which is just beautiful, and as sharply relevant today as it was in 1970. Now I’m on her collected notes on travelling the American south, South and West, which is far from a traditional travel journal.

God dammit, I love Joan Didion. I’m thinking of making my way back through her entire catalogue and possibly making an entire blogpost about it. You know, because I do things like that now.

Earlier this month I read a great little book (literally a smaller-sized trade paperback) by Laird Hunt called In the House in the Dark of the Woods. The setting is colonial America (1700s), the premise is “maybe witches.” It reads like a dream or a nightmare, and I mean that in the best way. That’s all I’m going to say other than check it out if either of those things interest you. It’s seriously great.

I’ve also been slowly reading through Lafcadio Hearn’s Japan, which again sounds like a traditional travelogue, but really isn’t at all. It’s more of a long collection of love songs to 1800s Japan through the eyes of a Westerner who left his life behind to live there. It’s beautiful, if a bit dated in terms of ideology. But it makes me long for a place I have never seen and now cannot, which I’ll assume is a sign of good writing. It is also excellent research for a project of my own that has been in the works for many years now.

Next up is A Manual for Cleaning Women by the late and great Lucia Berlin, which I’ll talk about in my next post. After that, The Name of the World by the also late and also great Denis Johnson.

Okay, that’s all I’ve got. Take care of yourself and the people around you. Don’t linger too long in despair -- a little goes a long way. Stay hydrated. Wear a mask in public. Laugh at things when you can.

Also, stay tuned for updates on some online promotions and readings for The Endless M. Hit me up with your feedback or any questions you might have if you’ve already read it. Comment on this blog post if so inclined. I’ll reply, I promise.

Cheers and be well and thanks again.

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