About My Essays:

I write my essays fairly informally, on a number of subjects: music, theatre, art, Fat issues, Queer issues, poetry, writer advice. It tends to be a mixed bag of stuff. Some of it better than others, and some of it more relevant than others. 

I publish most of my essays on Medium through their partner program, which allows me to make money based on engagement–time spent reading, and the number of “claps” I get on their platform, among other metrics. These links, however, will allow you to bypass the paywall in order to read them.

Outside Essays

NewMusicalTheatre: And We Keep Holding On — The Songs That Save Us

And We Keep Holding On: The Songs That Save Us

A few weeks ago, I was catching up on my Instagram stories (I’m really bad about doing the Instagram stories, and checking them, but that’s a whole different adventure) and I came across the Kerrigan-Lowdermilk story that showed their new merch. And when I saw the “Holding On” shirt, my heart nearly stopped.

BroadwayWorld: Back To School — When You’re About to Give Up, Stay

BWW Blog: Back to School – When You’re Ready to Give Up, Stay

I got a relatively late start into acting: other than a few shows during elementary school, I didn’t start acting until my senior year of high school. When I went into that audition room, I was up against people who had been acting for all of high school; even a few who had been acting their whole lives.

Germ Magazine: Major Depressive Adulthood

Major Depressive Adulthood by Zach J. Payne

There will come a day when you slip, when, despite your best efforts, the alligators in your head will break through. It’s nothing momentous, you just tell yourself that “I deserve a treat” or “I’m too tired to go to school today.” It’s a tiny thing, insignificant at the time.

GayYA: Aces Out — Laying the Cards on the Table

Aces Out: Laying the Cards On the Table

Asexuality in YA Series: Day 1 – Previous Posts: Introduction to Asexuality in YA Series by Zach J. Payne I didn’t come out with a bang, but with a whimper. There are people who might see this as a blessing.


Selected Medium Essays:

How to Wear A Rainbow: An Asexual’s Struggle to Find Pride

How to Wear a Rainbow – Member Feature Stories – Medium

Asexuality has never been something that made me proud. Instead, it was a way of explaining myself. Of justifying my singleness and virginity at an age long past the point when I should’ve had sex. Asexuality explained my aberrant behavior. A synonym for broken, the word that I used to describe myself long before asexual ever entered my lexicon.

Suicide, Dissected

Suicide, Dissected. – Zach J. Payne – Medium

A road map of how it happens, from one who’s been there. A couple of disclaimers before we start. This is not graphic in any way. It is about the mental state that leads up to suicide and the mental processes behind it. There is no discussion of methods or anything remotely like that.

How to Make Me Read Your Novel: A Literary Intern’s Tips for Standing Out in the Slush Pile

How to Make Me Read Your Novel – The Writing Cooperative

A Literary Intern’s One Tip for Standing Out in the Slush Pile There’s a lot of advice out on the internet about how to query. And if you’re reading this, you’re probably desperate and on the cusp of sending your baby out into the world. I’ve been in that place, too.

 In Defense of Terrible Teenage Poetry

In Defense of Terrible Teenage Poetry – Zach J. Payne – Medium

These kids don’t suck. You’re getting old. “All of these kids think that they’re poets.” I’m sitting next to an older woman, someone I’d guess is in that decade split between my parents and my grandparents.We’re waiting for a book signing to start and, in front of us, a group of teenagers are laughing and talking and writing.


The Art of Finding a Damn Good Title

The Art of Finding a Damn Good Title – The Writing Cooperative

It’s not for nothing that the very first assignment in Shaunta Grimes ‘s plotting workshop is to list the inspirations for your novel, whatever they might be. And looking at those inspirations gives you a jumping off point for not only picking your title, but picking your epigraph.

How Do You Find Your Person?

How Do You Find Your Person? – Zach J. Payne – Medium

I had my second appointment with my therapist yesterday, and during the meeting, I, while struggling to find a mature, adult way to frame a problem, burst out saying I feel like I need a Meredith to my Cristina, you know? To which she responded “You need a Person?” “Exactly!”

Some Things Can’t Be Fixed

Some Things Can’t Be Fixed – Zach J. Payne – Medium

The mood hit me today, as it hits me every once in a while. I’m sure it happens to you, too, where you start thinking about a person who used to be a part of your life. Maybe it was your fault. Maybe…

Writing is Damn Hard Work

Writing is Damn Hard Work – Zach J. Payne – Medium

The “gurus” aren’t lying to you, just sharing their tools. I’ve seen a few posts over the last week or two, enough to make it something of a trend, where writers here on Medium start complaining about all of the advice articles they’re seeing from other writers.

What the Hell is a Query Letter?

What the Hell is a Query Letter? – Zach J. Payne – Medium

A former Literary Intern breaks it down. I’ve read a lot of query letters in my time. During the year and a half that I read queries as intern to a literary agent, I’ve seen pretty much every mistake that a writer can make when submitting to an agent.