A Ten Question Interview With The Artist…John Grochalski

Why do you write?

The most honest answer that I can give is that it entertains and amuses me in a way that nothing else does. Writing amuses me less than it did say five or ten years ago, but I still do it. Maybe five years from now I’ll take up painting.

What books do you read?

Novels mostly. I guess it’s considered literary fiction as I don’t do much genre. Not as much poetry as you’d think.  I’ve been really getting into socio-political type books.  Stuff written by people like Chris Hedges and Noam Chomsky. They make many good points about the decline and fall of the American Empire. I mean look at the way the 2016 election is shaping up. You have all these GOP candidates who aren’t fit to run a lemonade stand, and they want to run the country. And on the other side you have a career-long Corporatist who’s only value is in breaking the glass ceiling. You need to read people to make sense of this madness. Oh, and I like some rock magazines like Mojo.

What inspires you?

My wife, bars without televisions in them, people who don’t own smartphones.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer and when?

I don’t want to put this down to economics, but in twenty years of writing I’ve made exactly seventy-five bucks off of what I do. I get paid to work as a public librarian, so that’s what I consider myself. But I started writing at around seventeen years old.

How Do you deal with rejection?

It happens every week…so I’d say pretty well. I’ve been petty. There was a place that used to take my poems then they started rejecting them. So I haven’t sent them anything in about four years. But I don’t write anyone nasty emails.

Who are some writers you admire?

Boy, admiration is a tough word.  I don’t know if I admire him but without Jack Kerouac’s On the Road I wouldn’t be doing any of this.  It changed my life. But to admire someone who didn’t work and let his mother sweat and toil so he could play artist?  I don’t know.  There are some workhorse people out there who are at it every day, and I admire that. People like Kevin Ridgeway, Allyson Malinenko and Don Wentworth. I know they’re all up before the sun to write/edit. Those types.  People who write only when “inspired” I don’t really understand.

Is writing the only artistic medium you do?

I also excel in the fine art of complaint. Ask my wife. I’ll complain about anything. In my view the sun causes cancer, so I complain about people bathing in it.

What would be some advice you would give to your younger self?

Don’t sign anything without reading it first…especially student loan forms. College is over-rated and expensive and has no real world applications for what you are suited to do. Talk to mom and see if she’s willing to work while you stay home and play artist, like Jack Kerouac.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Do they have any advice for me?  What can you tell someone who’s chosen this?  I know people who’ve been writing diligently for decades and haven’t made a dent, yet they keep at it. I know people who’ve got an agent and a publishing deal on the first try. My advice? Be nice to waitresses, waiters, bartenders and anyone else who makes their living serving you.

What is your writing process?

I’m up at 4:45 in the morning Monday through Friday with the goal of being in front of my computer at 5:00 and ready to write. I work for around two to two and a half hours, until my work overlords deem I get ready for the job. I do fiction and poetry. Sometimes I have ideas in the morning and sometimes I start from scratch. Novel stuff is easier because you have the foundation there. Poems? I’ve been keeping an almost daily blog since 2008, so I’ve pretty well raked my life over the coals for ideas. I used to get a lot of poem ideas watching people on the bus and subway, but now everyone has their head buried in their phones. I try to keep the hangovers at bay.

John Grochalski is the author of The Noose Doesn’t Get Any Looser After You Punch Out (Six Gallery Press 2008), Glass City (Low Ghost Press, 2010), In The Year of Everything Dying (Camel Saloon, 2012), Starting with the Last Name Grochalski (Coleridge Street Books, 2014), and the novel, The Librarian (Six Gallery Press 2013).  Grochalski currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, in the section that doesn’t have the bike sharing program.

John Grochalski is the author of The Noose Doesn’t Get Any Looser After You Punch Out (Six Gallery Press 2008), Glass City (Low Ghost Press, 2010), In The Year of Everything Dying (Camel Saloon, 2012), Starting with the Last Name Grochalski (Coleridge Street Books, 2014), and the novel, The Librarian (Six Gallery Press 2013). Grochalski currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, in the section that doesn’t have the bike sharing program.

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