October 27, 2013


By John R. Greenwood

I spent most of my Saturday installing a new door on the side of my house. No, it's not the most interesting subject for a blog post but it does have some significance. In life we are always closing a door on one part of our lives and opening the door of another. One thing I have noticed and written about is how important it is to keep a positive attitude regarding those ins and outs. I keep wanting to expand my writing but I am constantly having to balance my want-life with my work-life. Just because you love to write doesn't mean you can write. To hone the skill you need to practice and practice equals time. Time for me, and for you, is a precious commodity.

The next best thing to practice is to keep motivated by exposing myself to anything related to writing. That is why I purchased a ticket to hear Pulitzer Prize winning author Richard Russo at Skidmore College's Filene Recital Hall. $20 bought you a seat and Richard's newest book 'Elsewhere'. It's a memoir of his life which began in his hometown of Gloversville, NY. The book centers on the intricate relationship he had with his mother and the hometown he tried so hard to escape. I can't write a review of a book I've yet to read but I can tell you by the time the evening at Filene had ended, I was real anxious to read it. Richard set the tone of the book by emphasizing his genuine love of 'home and place'. It came through loud and clear as he talked of the various influences his hometown played in his writing career. 

Richard Russo 
I have also found that with everything I am drawn to, there is some connection to my youth. Much of it has to do with the various characters that drifted through. Some of it has to do with the values those characters instilled in me. I unlike Richard have stayed close to my roots. Not so much because of want as much as need. Richard's education pulled him and his family to Arizona, Maine and many places in between.  I on the other hand stayed where I could make a living without the benefit of higher learning. In many ways I think that gave me a much stronger education in life's basics; survival and appreciation of the simpler joys in life. 

One thing that Richard spoke about really stuck with me. He said in the beginning he thought he would have to completely cut ties with the past to become a 'worldly' writer. He said in the end everything he accomplished went back to where he came from. Sometimes you close a door behind you only to return. Life is funny that way. 

The evening was sponsored by the Skidmore College English Department in collaboration with the Northshire Book Store of Saratoga Springs. Saratoga Springs Public Library Director Issac Pulver was the evenings skilled and well read moderator. It was a packed house and at the close of the presentation they showed their appreciation with resounding applause. 

I always look at these little hunks of life as doors or opportunities, never knowing what's in store or at stake. I often think of what I would have missed in the last half dozen years had I sat at the kitchen table and wondered, "What if?"

Oh yeah, "The Door"
Life continues to amaze and entertain me. Doors continue to show up in my path. I always open them with fervor and optimism. I never completely close the one behind me. I chose instead to leave them slightly cracked and secured with a loose doorstop that can be easily be kicked to the side leaving me to decide whether or not I want to go back or forward. 


  1. A thoughtful and inspiring post, John. I meant to attend this event, but forgot to get there. I'm glad that it meant so much to you.

  2. I love listening to authors speak (especially ones who write about history). Stay motivated, keep writing. :)

  3. As you can probably now tell, I am catching up on your blog! Another shot to the heart seeing that I left Saratoga for the wrong reasons and now I'm back. "Sometimes you close a door behind you only to return. Life is funny that way." Rhea