Featured Student Writer 2013 (Joey Holland)

Joey Holland grew up in Clinton, SC, in Laurens County, as did his father and his father before him. He has two older sisters and two daughters, Elizabeth- 25, and Addye- 21. He was in the printing industry for many years until declining health forced him to sell his printing business. He says with a smile, “Now, I write.” Joey is in his second semester at Greenville Tech, and his first semester in the Honors Program. He came back to school in order to become a better writer, though now he has decided to pursue a BA in English. He will probably always write, but teaching and publishing also interest him.

Joey has an acute sense of humor; he told me the other day, with a very vexed expression on his face, and after speaking up in class many times, conversing with other classmates, and smiling and talking with others in the hall, that he hated going to “get togethers” because then he’d have to meet new people. He is quite personable and outgoing, really. He says, “I have had many interesting and funny things happen to me, and I want them to be remembered after I am gone. I first realized this when my last aunt on my mother’s side died. My mom was the youngest of twelve children, all of whom were at least a little crazy, and some were certifiable! They had thousands of wonderful stories about their misadventures, so I was saddened when Aunt Lib died, and along with her, all of those stories. My sisters and I have some of the same craziness and the stories that accompany insanity, and I want mine to be remembered.”

So far, most of his writing has been memoir-ish in nature, though after he finishes the book he’s working on now, he wants to write a novel with strong autobiographical overtones. His father was a businessman and politician who got into some trouble and went to prison when Joey was seventeen. Joey says, “Writing about the time he was in prison has been very freeing (I’m determined not to use ‘cathartic’), and I think a good book is back there, during that time.”

In the current issue of The Blue Granite Review Joey has a story entitled “Christmas of ”79.” He says it “is a story about my family’s lowest point and the ensuing rise from the ashes while my father was away. It is the first story in Desperate Fun, my first book.”

He also adds that, “The best advice I ever got was from Ira Glass, host of “This American Life” on public radio. In essence, Glass says that if you are unhappy with… Oh, hell, I will just cut and paste it:

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

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