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Facefirst, Into a Wall

Courtesy of Pexels.

I was so excited for NaNoWriMo. And now we’re a mere four days in, and I can barely breathe.

There are a lot of reasons for this. Largely, there’s the money issue. I have none, which makes things like eating and car insurance and paying off old debts very difficult. I have a wonderful job, a wonderful internship, and I love going to school, but that doesn’t bring in enough money to stave off the panic attacks. Worrying about money just happens to be a constant thing. When my brain wanders off, instead of being struck with great story ideas or plot twists, I wonder how I’m going to buy gas for the month, or groceries, or cover the insurance or cover the phone or start saving money. I laugh when people start mentioning retirement funds or any sort of saving for the future. It’s just some kind of gross joke.

There’s also school, which is getting more and more intense. Not to difficult, per se, but I have to think about life down the road: moving off to a 4 year school to get my BA, and how I want to be professionally, since it’s becoming pretty clear that I’m not going to make a living through writing.

And then there’s my body, which is staging a constant coup against me, and is, quite possibly, my own worst enemy. Any time I try to do anything even remotely normal, my body reminds me that I’m more amorphous blob of adipose than I am human being, and it shuts that shit down.

The net result of all this? I want to sit down at my desk, boot up Guild Wars 2, and pretend that the rest of the world doesn’t exist. Because when I try to write, the words flow like tar down a staircase. I can spend hours staring at my Scrivener screen, only to have half a hundred words come out — a failure, by any reasonable metric.

I spent my whole life hearing the adage When God closes a door, He opens a window. My lack of belief about God aside for the moment, this is bullshit. I’m surrounded by walls. Even the door behind me has been replaced by walls. Sometimes, I see cracks and think that I can squeeze through, only to find out that I’m delusional.

In my life, the line between acts of faith and acts of insanity has completely disappeared. Another one of those lovely adages defines insanity as repeating the same action and hoping for a different outcome. I’m beginning to wonder if getting out of bed on a daily basis qualifies as insanity.


Zach Payne is, to borrow the words of Lin-Manuel Miranda, “a polymath, a pain in the ass, a massive Payne.” He acts, sings poorly, and writes poetry, plays, and young adult fiction.

He’s an assistant at Ninja Writers, where he helps new writers find their voice and their tribe. He was the query intern for Pam Victorio at D4EO, and his novel Somehow You’re Sitting Here was selected for Nevada SCBWI’s 2015–16 Mentor Program. He lives in Reno.