Why I write…

By Matt Payne

My life is pissing me off. Right now, I absolutely hate everything. Every tiny thing. The cat wanting more water when the bowl is full, the lawn mower outside. My neighbor’s computer informing him that “he’s got mail,” which means he still uses AOL which is also a stick up my ass. I hate that my ceiling fan wobbles and I am furious at how the Japanese treated the American POWs in WWII. I also hate that I slept so little last night that I managed to get through the entire Ken Burns series about World War II. I hate that when it was “what do you want to do with your life” day at school, I said I wanted to be a writer and chose to do so in a time where no one wants to read anything unless it either appears in block letters on a picture of a cat dressed as a pumpkin or it’s a 140 character hateful phrase about how the other half of the country sucks.

I can’t stand the fact that today I have to go to a temp office where I’ll have to take an aptitude test to let them know that I can do basic math and operate spreadsheets, so that starting tomorrow, I can go back to a job filing and making other people’s phone calls because apparently, despite all the effort that I have put into building a body of work that is honest, passionate, and entertaining, I have somehow still managed to fall short enough that in order to keep an apartment roughly the size of the first apartment I ever had in Norman Oklahoma, I must stop doing what I’m good at for a period of time and start doing what I hate.

Then there is the one thing that gets me the most. No matter how much, this particular day, I can’t stand everything, I know for a second that none of this shit I just wrote above is true.I hate the fact that when people, friends, loved ones, and family members try to cheer me up, my response is to tell them that they just don’t get it when they are the ones that actually do. I hate the fact that I choose to blame the industry and the world for the fact that my career as a writer has no value when that thought can be attributed to no one but me. I’ve been blessed with a remarkable life. Beautiful people that care about me, a passion for something that I care deeply about, a world that I want to know and understand and a world that I want to rest of the world to understand and care about with the passion that I do. Ahead of me are endless opportunities and I know that. And I hate that sometimes that slips my mind.

So I’ll take this moment when fluffy pillows and kittens remind me of being caught in barbed wire and I’ll remember it, because it is a terrible way to live. People love to tell you to always stay positive but I partially disagree. Better to call it as you see it in a given moment so that  shortly there after you can see it for what it really is. Life is never any clearer than that moment you let something completely hate-filled and juvenile slip out of your mouth and all you want to do is take it back. Regret sometimes leads to revelation. I can attest to this because I just re-read the first two paragraphs (sigh) and as much as I want to delete them, I’ll just leave them there as a friendly reminder….

Anyone reading this might wonder what brought this on… Here it is. Travel writing doesn’t pay. It’s great, but it doesn’t pay. TV jobs are also great when you’ve got them but it is a tough world to re-enter and right now, as far as that goes, I got a handful of unread scripts, a few good people who’ve got my back and that’s fantastic. But ask any writer. it doesn’t pay the bills.

I have to remind myself that the basic, primal reason that I AM a writer and I do what I do, is because when I sat down thirty minutes ago, I wanted to drown this day. I wanted to rant about it and carry on, and exaggerate and embellish and just sit and stew in my frustration. So that is what I did… and in working through all that agitation, somehow, now the birds don’t bother me as much. In the time it has taken me to write this blog, and as I go back to read the opening paragraph, I’m not even sure who wrote it. Whoever he is, I hope he keeps his mouth shut from now on. I’ve got a cat who is thirsty, and I’ve got to see what South Korea’s all about and finally I figure out whether all those math classes were really worth it… and when I’m all done, the stories I’ll be able to tell….