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On Writing and his life


"I’ve lived in and around Amherst for nearly 50 years. Pretty much my entire adult life. I’m from the area – I spent most of my young adult life here as well. I found Amherst Community Connections when I was doing a google search for HCV, portable housing voucher acceptance in the valley. I believe the search terms I used were either “Section 8 housing Amherst, MA” or “affordable housing Massachusetts.” That brought me around, eventually, to the ACC website. As a long-time resident of Amherst, I was aware of Ms. Greeney’s existence and her work in the community. Everybody I know mentioned she was good to work with. So, when I was walking by the other day, I happened to notice the Amherst Community Connections sign out in front and I decided then to come inside to seek assistance here.

That’s about it. I was looking for assistance. I found her website. And because of both Ms. Greeney’s reputation and the fact that I’ve had friends who have come here in the past, I was aware of the place already tangentially. I knew that you guys existed, but just had never really availed myself of assistance here or sought any kind of help."

On writing and his life:

"…It’s the fact that here is an incredibly literate community. It’s the fact that my mother read to me from day one in her arms. Every single day of my young life. I started reading at three. Because of that I had a life-long of books and learning. I’ve kept up with continuing my own education despite the fact that I didn’t complete high school and didn’t complete college. Two very different things happened. When I was young I was living in West Springfield and going to the high school there at a group home. And I got so tired of it that I basically ran away and went on tour with the Grateful Dead for four years. And then in college I availed myself of Mass Rehab and got into UMASS. Spent a year and a half there. And then my grandmother passed away… And everything just crumbled. And so, you know, that was the end what I very much enjoyed as a college career. I mean I took classes not necessarily leading up to a degree, but the ones that interested me and the ones that I had some attraction to. So, I ended up taking a lot of the survey courses and some of the more esoteric stuff. Couple of Archeology classes, Anthropology, and Greek and Latin elements in English. Also - wordplay and the words and the language. That’s always fascinated me too. And believe it or not – I don’t write."

“What? That shocks me”

"Well, here’s the thing. Writing is taking something that seems to me naturally fluid – thought – and trying to petrify it. And it loses all of its life when you do that. Also, I am a compulsive perfectionist and I absolutely hate everything that I write. And so I go back and revise and erase until in the end there’s nothing left. And I’m like, you know, I could put this so much more succinctly. But then the words fail. It’s so frustrating. And as somebody who does express myself through verbiage all the time and primarily it’s very frustrating to not be able to get it into a more permanent format. Of course there’s also, in my opinion, something not necessarily arrogant, but perhaps presumptive about writing. I know that we all have our little chapter in the human story and everybody’s story is worth telling and all that. But it seems to be presumptuous that my thoughts are so important that I’m going to put them out for everybody else to read. I found myself in conversation that my thoughts are generally only interesting to me. It’s just perhaps my own hang-ups. When I read something, especially autobiographical, it just seems like the height of arrogance to me. Who cares about you and your blabbering? You’re no Shakespeare – get outta here.

And also, there’s a bit of it that’s I guess you could characterize it best as… a chronic ongoing case of writer’s block. In that when I try to express a thought in writing it never goes as I hoped that it would. And I can never go: introduction, point, point, conclusion. It never goes there. I always end up getting sidetracked onto some little detail and then I write paragraphs and paragraphs and paragraphs about stupid things that’ll get taken out anyway. It’s an immensely frustrating thing. Also, there’s the fact that my mind goes at about 50 miles per minute. Just spinning and all the ideas come up. So, it’s hard to really focus on one to get it down – there’s a bit of impatience too I suspect involved with that as well. Because I’m very impatient… So, I don’t know. It’s tough. It’s tough being I suppose a frustrated writer who doesn’t write. I suppose that just makes me frustrated."

“Have you thought about poetry?”

"Endlessly. And I can make some recommendations of poets who I don’t think suck if you’d like. My own poetry ends up really pretentious. And lofty and vaulted and effusive and florid… And turgid. And uncompromising… And I don’t like my own poetry. My own poetry pisses me off. Cus if anyone had read it, they’d be like – this guy’s an asshole. Well, I’m also somewhat of a misanthrope. So my poetry usually goes like [drops down to whisper] “I fucking hate everybody… And this is why.”

“Turn them into song lyrics and go on tour again”

"Don’t think that hasn’t occurred to me. Unfortunately, I’m not an accomplished enough instrumentalist to really be able to. I mean I can come up with melodies but music theory isn’t my thing. And my singing voice was high and clear and delightful while I was a young man. It’s no longer there. My top range is gone and my bottom range is still pretty good. I can get low and gravelly. Maybe start doing something like…Leonard Cohen. Or a Tom Waits kinda thing. [Growls out impersonation]"

Earlier Event: January 29
Amherst, a big breath of fresh air
Later Event: February 19
Love Yourself First