“Lena smiles and bounces a little bit. I don’t have a particularly bouncy bed and it looks silly that she is trying to bounce on it. Her cheeks flush.
‘Have you seen Girls?’
‘I’m in it.’
‘Yes, I know,’ I say. ‘You’re everywhere.’”
—from “Lena Dunham Is Everywhere” which appears in the Summer 2017 issue (Volume 58, Issue 2)
Tell us about one of the first pieces you wrote.
The first professional piece I completed was a full-length play, By The Master’s Hand, about a real historical figure known only as The Spanish Forger. I was living in Chicago at the time and thought it would be fun to write a play because Chicago was (and still is) such a great theatre town. With embarrassing levels of naiveté and overconfidence, I was convinced that once I finished it, I’d send the play to the Goodman Theatre and they would produce it. So, I wrote the play and sent it to the literary manager at the Goodman, and when she called me six months later to discuss a production I was dumb enough not to be surprised. Sadly, because they had already committed to another art-themed play, mine never saw the stage and remains unproduced to this day. I’m sure there’s a moral in here somewhere, but I can’t figure it out.
What writer(s) or works have influenced the way you write now?
Too many to name, but the first ones that come to mind are Harold Pinter, Robert Penn Warren, Dashiell Hammett, Shirley Jackson, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. There’s probably some unconscious connection with everything I’ve ever read, starting with Goodnight Moon.
What other professions have you worked in?
I teach writing at Hampshire College. In high school I waited tables and just after college I temped in office buildings. I’m not sure those last two would count as “professions” the way I practiced them.
What did you want to be when you were young?
I’ve secretly wanted to be a writer since junior high school. I told my parents that I was pre-med.
What inspired you to write this piece?
I rarely work this way, but I came up with the title first, Lena Dunham is Everywhere, and then had to figure out the story – who the protagonist was and what he and his wife wanted.
Do you have any rituals or traditions that you do in order to write?
I’ve always tried to treat writing like an office job, 9 to 5. I get the business end out of the way in the morning and then write all afternoon if possible.
Who typically gets the first read of your work?
My wife, Lise, who is proofreading this right now. Thanks!
If you could work in another art form what would it be?
I’ve directed a few short films, so I guess that’s the other art form. I also paint. I suppose the real answer would be opera.
What are you working on currently?
I’m writing a screenplay, a new play, a short story, and a proposal for a screenwriting book. Which is to say that I’m nowhere near done with anything new.
What are you reading right now?
I just finished a Dorothy Sayers novel, I’m in the middle of several dozen New Yorkers, I just started the manuscript of a YA novel that a friend wrote, and began Between The World and Me.
Purchase our current issue (Volume 58, Issue 2) here to read Eric Sanders’s piece “Lena Dunham Is Everywhere.”
ERIC HENRY SANDERS is a playwright, filmmaker, and fiction writer. His many plays have been produced in New York, London, and Berlin, and in regional theatres across the United States. His short films have screened at festivals including the Palm Springs International ShortFest, the New Hope Film Festival, and the Massachusetts International Film Festival. His nonfiction writing has appeared in Bright Lights Film Journal and Take Magazine, among others.