Peter Bjorn and John is playing on my Last.fm (special thanks to Jacob Brown). I’m thinking about what I want to do with myself tomorrow (which is actually this morning, since I’m writing this very late at night). I really need a day off to rest, but I need to keep job hunting. My bills never really seem to stop coming. My exhaustion doesn’t really want to leave. I have six weeks off. Six weeks to take a break from my show. Six weeks to try and relax. Six weeks to find more time for myself as the weather is getting warmer outside.
And yet still, all I can think about is some giant wagging finger. “Matt Fried, you are a lazy son of a bitch.”
For the last year, I’ve been writing on daily basis. Not a day goes by without me writing, or thinking of an idea for writing something. I recently read a Rolling Stone article on Lil Wayne, who takes the same approach to making music. Not a day goes by that he’s not in the studio, recording an average of five tracks a day. That calculates – roughly – to 150 songs a month; 1,825 songs a year. He’s quoted as saying that without recording, his whole day can turn to shit. With me and writing, it’s the same story. I can always walk away from acting or improv whenever I want. But if you told me “Matt, don’t ever write again.”, I’d probably have a nervous breakdown by next Tuesday.
I’m trying to do a lot of things in this life. Chief among them is getting paid to write. Specifically, I want people to pay me money for writing funny things. But I realize that statement must seem a bit ironic, considering that this particular blog entry is very Nick Hornsby. Which isn’t to say that Nick Hornsby isn’t a talent writer – I love High Fidelity. I’m just trying to use Nick Hornsby as an example of being a midtwentysomething man-child, stuck in a professional holding pattern. Not unlike the way Chekov decided to mock the modern intellectual in The Seagull. You see, it’s this play about this whiny rich kid who’s pissed off because his cougar of a mom won’t pay attention to him. So, to impress the girl he loves, he shoots a seagull, and gives it to her as a symbol of his dead talent as a playwright. Chekhov was a very cheeky fellow. I actually rewrote said “gift scene” just last night at 4 a.m. It goes something like this:
Matt: “Here, I brought you something.”
Anne Hathway: “Oh! Is it that dress I was looking at on Fifth Avenue?”
Matt: “It’s a dead seagull.”
Anne Hathway: “Oh.”
Matt: “It’s dead. Like my talent. I love you.”
Anne Hathaway: “…”
Not nearly as effective, but still very poetic.
Anyway, what was I saying? Oh yes – I want to be a comedy writer. But I’m tired. I really want to just rest tomorrow. But there’s this gnawing sense of guilt in me that won’t allow it. It’s a familiar guilt that I’ve known for a long time. It’s the guilt that expects the world of me. It tells me “One day, you will be The Greatest.” On long days, it pushes me a little further. Because it knows what I want. But then, the rest of my body gives out. I can feel my brain become uninterested, and my will as limp as an overcooked spaghetti noodle. I think, if it were a year ago, I would’ve identified this feeling as procrastination. Now though, my better instincts recognize it as exhaustion. The difference being that procrastination is motivated by fear. Exhaustion is motivated by… well, being exhausted. Yet still, I can hear those voices. “Matt Fried, you’re a bum.” “Matt Fried, you’re worthless.” “Matt Fried, it’s no wonder you’re nowhere near famous yet.”
But here’s the trick, folks. You have to ignore it. As hard as it is, I will let myself be tired. I will let myself relax. Because you’ll always have those days where things get crazy. Those are the days you have to step back, remember everything, and trust your gut. Otherwise, you are the next Treplev – sitting on the F train, sipping espresso, handing out dead pigeons from a trash bag to every pretty girl you see. And all you seem to care about is how unfair life is, and how you do so much and earn so little.
I’ve got six weeks. One day isn’t going to matter. Besides, I know too many other good writers. God help if someone ever says “Hey Matt Fried, I wrote a play about you.”