At Last


I left Boston on September 23rd to spend a week in California with my 101-year-old mother. When I called home the next day, Barbara said friends had told her I had sent a facebook message saying my book had been published and that I had won an award! I had been waiting for months for the design features of the book to get settled, and then it all happened when I was away. I got home yesterday.

So here is the scoop. My book is named Normal: Stories from My Life, by W. Newell Hendricks, OutSkirts Press. OutSkirts is a print on demand publisher, so I was told that it will take 5 to 15 business days for my order to be printed, plus delivery time.

Here is how you can get a copy of my book.

– Order it at Barns and Noble, or other bookstore. It will probably take them the same amount of time to get it in. The bookstore price is $22.95. (It is 403 pages long)
– Order it through Amazon. $19.96. It will say temporarily out of stock, which means the 5 to 15 day wait for it to be printed. With shipping it is about the same as the bookstore.
– You can purchase it from OutSkirts for $20.66. 10 or more copies are $12.48 each.
– If you live in the Boston area, you can come to my book signing party either October 25th or 26th, and I’ll have them available for $15. I’ll let you know the details of the party when I know.

The Book

When I began writing four stories about my life in 1970, I didn’t know I was writing a book. I was writing stories about my life in the ‘60s. (culturally, 1970 was in the heart of the ‘60s.) I had just returned from a delegation to Nicarabgua with two other members of my church, and Esther Emery, in particular, encouraged me to write down some of the stories I had been telling her about my life. It was also a time when I knew I wouldn’t live too many more years. I had cancer in my bones, but did not yet feel the effect of the cancer. So it was the perfect time to write about my life. I knew there would not be any new big chapter, and I had the energy and motivation to pour myself into the task. I wanted to get my version out there while I had a chance.

Once I started writing the first four stories, which I put under the heading “Isla Vista: 1970,” I knew I wanted to keep writing, but wasn’t sure what form to use. Writing about my life chronologically didn’t seem right. My life didn’t have a dramatic turning point – a crisis resolved – a major accomplishment achieved. I had always just been me.  But in just being me there had always been a tension between the normative culture and myself, and this was the stuff of stories. Before I had finished the fourth story of “Isla Vista, 1970,” I created the outline for at least twenty-five more stories in six more sections: House Building, Travel, Major Compositions, Family Vacations, Nicaragua, and Activism.

I wrote most of the stories in my head walking around – about two every month. Writing these stories was such a good way for me to process the reality that my life was coming to an end. It was also wonderful for me to go back to a daily routine I had developed in my years as a composer – spending most of the day wandering around thinking and then in the afternoon and evening, writing down what I had come up with.

The last four stories were written in bed between my back surgeries of May and August, 2013.

It took me a while to realize I had a book and then to figure out what to do with it.

In this process I had a tremendous amount of help from family and friends: from my Daughter Clara, my wife Barbara, and my friend Mathew Abbate, in editing and proofreading the book. And in the final stage, Tom Briggs, who is my granddaughter, Vita Luna’s, other grandfather, gave an incredible amount of skill and time to the design of the book: both the cover and interior design. It is a very good looking book.

In the blurb on the back of the book I wrote “I was not a rebel; I was an idealist who found resources within myself, in the natural world, and in the dumpsters of society to not only exist, but flourish.”

This book is a testament that a normal person, you, just being you, can live a full, fascinating life, maybe one that will inspire others to do the same.


About Newell Hendricks

I have lived a good life. Maybe a counterculture life, maybe a normal life. I have written operas, built houses, been involved with cross-cultural education between Latin America and the U.S, and hardly ever had a job I have helped raise two wonderful children with my amazing wife. It's been a good ride. And I go to church. I've just finished a book of stories from my life, I am still connected to an organization in Nicaragua that promotes sister relationships between communities, faith communities, or schoold, and to the extent that my cancer doesn't pull me down, am attempting to share some of what I have learned, or at least tried out. Welcome, and let's share.
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