A Conversation with John E. Budzinski

Exploring Humour and Reflection in Everyday Stories

John E. Budzinski, renowned for his humorous and insightful storytelling, discusses his latest book, Not That It Matters, and reflects on the universal charm found in life’s simple moments.

John E. Budzinski is a storyteller whose narratives breathe life into the mundane and quirky facets of everyday existence. From his upbringing in Stratford, Connecticut, to his travels around the globe, Budzinski’s writing is a testament to his fascination with the peculiarities of the human experience. His latest book, Not That It Matters, continues this tradition, offering readers a glimpse into his world of humorous observations and heartfelt reflections.

Having honed his storytelling craft through columns for newspapers like the Boston Globe and the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, Budzinski’s approach blends journalistic precision with a knack for finding humour in life’s idiosyncrasies. His narratives, often described as light-hearted yet profound, resonate with readers by revealing the universal truths hidden within ordinary moments.

In this interview with Reader’s House Magazine, John E. Budzinski discusses his creative process, the inspirations behind his diverse topics—from artificial intelligence to bagpipe playing—and the underlying thread that ties them together. With a keen eye for detail and a penchant for storytelling, Budzinski invites readers to reconsider the significance of their own stories and legacies.

Join us as we delve into the mind of a storyteller who finds joy in the simplicity we all share, reminding us that amidst life’s complexities, the stories we tell are what connect us most profoundly.

Your books often delve into the quirky and mundane aspects of everyday life. What inspires you to explore these seemingly ordinary moments and turn them into engaging stories?

I have been fortunate to have traveled, and in those travels, I discovered the vast majority of us are so much alike, and we live ordinary lives with special moments scattered about. Very few of us will have our busts placed in a hall of fame or be recorded in history books, at least nothing more than a paragraph or two. The fact we are so similar in that simplicity fascinates me. I write my stories simply – I hope to let readers know that they are not alone and to show them the joy and humor in the simplicity we all share.

Not That It Matters includes a wide range of topics from artificial intelligence to playing the bagpipes. How do you choose the subjects you write about, and is there a common thread that connects these diverse topics?

Editors at newspapers suggested I explore certain subjects, but most topics came from my innate curiosity and fascination with this planet and the species inhabiting it. I read a lot, which goes hand-in-hand with my traveling and feeds my curiosity. I also found so many things have a tie connecting them most people never see. I do. Humans are a weird and interesting species, and I love exploring all their idiosyncracies and writing about what I discovered and learned. My curiosity and wonder tie it together, along with seeing the story in simple things and being able to laugh at myself.

In Life Goes On, you discuss the concept of a Permanent Record and the desire to edit it. What message do you hope readers take away from this idea, and how do you think it relates to our real-life legacies?

Your Permanent Record is one of those items many of us have in common – everyone has heard about it and been threatened by the adverse information it may contain. As such, all of us would like to edit it because, no doubt, we were victims of circumstance. But I want readers to be aware they have a legacy and that many people have affected it and helped them create it. And they can (and will) affect others in creating their legacies. Maybe we can’t edit it, but we can be aware we are building it. I hope readers take that away when they finish Life Goes On.  

Your storytelling is known for its light-hearted humour and poignant reflections. How do you balance these elements to create a narrative that resonates with readers on multiple levels?

Over the years, I learned to make the best out of every situation, and through that, I developed my optimistic attitude. I hope that optimism shows in my writing. I search for something positive in all situations. That search often leads to humor because life has absurd moments – if we take the time to see them. Of course, the humor can often be crass, and I have to work on not being too flippant and disingenuous. I try not to preach but only write what I see and tell the story in simple terms and language. I think my conversational style of writing plays well in this because it is simple, and it is that simple, non-judgmental tone that resonates with readers. I am humbled by the descriptions that my words relay “poignant reflections.”

You’ve had your work published in numerous notable newspapers and journals. How has your experience with journalism influenced your approach to writing books?

Newspaper reporting is telling stories, and there is a format and process for how reporters go about it. Creative writing is different, but it shares two essential elements: truth and facts. I work diligently to ensure both are present and accurate in my writing. That comes from my days writing for newspapers.

In Nothing Special – Just A Life, you ask readers thought-provoking questions about their own lives and legacies. Why do you think it’s important for readers to reflect on their own stories, and how do you hope your book facilitates this reflection?

Did you ever stop to think how many of your conversations involve storytelling? We humans are a species of storytellers. All of history involves stories. I want readers to read my stories and then remember AND APPRECIATE their stories. They matter, and theyare important. They are not just a personal history, but part of a connected history that we must preserve. I want readers to know, “Good stories are good stories.”

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