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Productive pandemic: Jennaye Derge wrote book during COVID-19 lockdown

Local author Jennaye Derge will celebrate her new book, “How to Cry on Your Bicycle and Other Practical Lessons,” with a book launch Thursday at the Secret Garden at Rochester Hotel. (Courtesy of Jennaye Derge)

Book-release party to be held at Rochester’s Secret Garden

Remember the worst of the pandemic, when we were all sequestered in our homes?

I don’t know about the rest of you, but in my house, we did jigsaw puzzles, a lot of UNO and knitting and binge-watched “Tiger King” (perhaps not our finest moment). In other words, we did stuff to pass the time and to try to make light of all of the weirdness.

Other people, however, were a lot more productive.

Case in point: Jennaye Derge wrote a book that she’ll celebrate publishing with a book launch at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Secret Garden at Rochester Hotel.

Derge is a writer, photographer and bicycle nut. She’s written and taken photographs for the Durango Telegraph, Essential Durango Magazine, Craft Spirits Magazine and The Durango Herald, to name just a few.

If you go

What: Book launch with Jennaye Derge.

When: 6 p.m. Thursday.

Where: Rochester Hotel Secret Garden, 726 East Second Ave.

More information: Visit mariasbookshop.com/events-calendar.

She said “How to Cry on Your Bike and Other Practical Lessons” was the result of the pandemic ennui experienced by just about everyone stuck at home.

“I think it happened just like everyone else who tackled big projects during 2020, during COVID: I was bored. I was super-bored and laid off from my job, and just started writing a little bit, and then started digging into some of my files and found old things I wrote and I just thought, ‘man, these are really good. These are good stories,’” she said. “So I went back over some old stuff and reworked things and edited them. And then gathered some old Telegraph editorials that I’ve written, some stuff that I wrote when I was with Local First. ... And I compiled it all during COVID.”

What she complied is a book of short essays that hit on everything from bicycle commuters (and sharing the road with cyclists), to RGB, dating, Mercury in retrograde and Tupperware. And if you’ve spent even two seconds with Derge and then read her book, her voice comes through so strongly in her writing, it’s as if she’s reading her essays aloud to you.

After the book’s release, Derge will hit the road on a book tour – a large part of which she’ll travel on her bike. She said she’ll travel from Chicago to Vermont on her bike, cruise through a couple of New England states and end in Boston, where she’ll fly back to Durango.

And while Derge said publishing a book can make you walk a little taller, it also comes with a case of the nerves.

“I’m revealing more about myself than I generally do. I’ve always been kind of reserved – I’ve never revealed a lot about myself,” she said. “I feel like in my years of writing, I wrote about other people, and so a lot of people that I know and that I have known for a long time are about to learn a lot of things about me.”


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