Creative Quarantine: Writer/Producer George Pelecanos

George Pelecanos

Editor’s note: As the world navigates the dystopian nightmare that is Covid-19 we decided to check in with some of our favorite creative minds. Difficult times often create great art, as well as new practices. Following is the first in a series. If you or someone you know is right for this series please send us a note: hello@estheticlens.com.

Stay safe, stay sane.


1. How are you holding up?

I’m doing okay.  No one in my family is sick, so I can’t, and shouldn’t, complain.  The mental part of it is the toughest, but it’s tough on everybody.  Honestly, up until the end of March, when I lost someone very close to me after a long illness, I wasn’t really focusing on the pandemic.  Still processing that loss, and trying to keep my head up in the midst of this chaotic and disturbing time.  I’m not just talking about the virus.  I’m speaking on the current internal threat to our republic.

2. Has Covid-19 had an effect on your work? If so, in what way?

I’ve got a couple of pending writing jobs, screen work.  One is based on extensive research, the other is a book adaptation.  That has been a welcome and challenging diversion, and, because the source material already exists, not tough to execute.  As far as prose, I haven’t been able to work on my own fiction.  Just can’t get started.  But I take comfort in the fact that, historically, dark times produce interesting and sometimes revolutionary art.  Some of the best 20th Century literature was written after the Great Depression and World War II, and movies (American film noir, the French New Wave, Italian neo-realism, the cinema of Japan) were elevated as well.

3. Is there anything you’ve added to your practice that you’d like to keep after this is over?

One thing that has come out of this for me is that I have become reacquainted with the natural world.  I was living in New York the past three years while on a production job, and the city was invigorating and exciting.  But I missed hiking in the woods of Rock Creek Park, and now I do it every day. Solitude can be cool if you let it take you someplace.  Animals are coming back in numbers to their natural habitats.  This spring there are beds of clover everywhere, which means more bees, which means life.  The air is more clear.  I hope I don’t forget to slow down once this passes.  But I’ll probably go just as hard as I did before.  I like to work.  


George Pelecanos is the author of twenty-one novels set in and around Washington, D.C.  He was a writer and producer on HBO’s The Wire, Treme, The Pacific and The Deuce.