We recently published Derek Heckman’s charming “Hibernation.”
Here, we ask him two questions about his story:
1) I love, love, love that this story starts with a meme, a joke, and then suddenly everyone realizes: Hey, this wouldn’t be so bad! and they just go for it. To me, that kind of makes me think of your writing process — you’ve said a lot of your stories start off as jokes. Do you think there are more jokes we should, perhaps, take seriously?
Could be! Humor is a great release for anger or frustration or the feeling that you’re losing your mind. It can be a way to cope with a lot of unpleasant emotions, especially when the things causing those emotions are out of your control. We laugh to keep from screaming, but who knows? Especially in these times, maybe we should all be screaming more.
2) There’s so many great moments in this piece, but I especially love that line, as everyone is falling into sleep: “We listened to the creaking of the universe.” There’s something so peaceful and ancient about this imagery. Was it something that just came to you? Or did you have to go looking for the right image to take this story into its end?
That image sort of came from the same place the story did. I read a lot about depression and other mood disorders, and there’s a theory out there that these diseases can come from a lack of connection with the rhythms of the natural world. Long ago, it may have been biologically useful for us to have periods where we didn’t actually do that much, where we slept more and moved slower. Now, we have electric lights. We have heating systems. We don’t have to stop working because it’s too cold or too dark, but (the theory goes) maybe that’s what we’re supposed to do. I’m not really sure what I think of that one way or the other, but I do think about it, and in part I wrote this story because of it.