The illustrious and pragmatic enigma that is Matt McGee answered our questions about his writing habits, body image, and what writing for Keeping It Under Wraps: Bodies, Uncensored was like for him.
Matt McGee is the main content provider for the LA-based VCReviewer. A six-time Pushcart Award nominee, in 2022 his short fiction appeared in Gypsum Tales, Sweetycat Press and Red Penguin. He is the former guitarist for the net-invisible grunge-art rock band Peradyme. He drives around in rented cars and plays goalie in local hockey leagues. His affection can be bought with chicken caesar salad. You can find him on Twitter.
What made you decide to write specifically for KIUW? What has your writing journey been like so far?
Writing for KIUW wasn’t so much about the writing journey, it was an opportunity to report the journey I’ve been on physically and wardrobe-wise. Somehow I developed some kind of issue long ago where I’d have a negative reaction if my shirt touched me. I felt exposed somehow, when in fact maybe that’s what I should’ve been doing all along. Fashion is window dressing; maybe the best thing we can present to one another is a beautiful body, and it wasn’t until I started playing a sport again that I realized how clothes and a physical appearance go hand in hand.
How does the process of digging up (sometimes) difficult memories go for you? How did you access those events in your life that you write about in your essay?
If an event were really that difficult I wouldn’t be writing publicly about it. Most experiences have been processed, compartmentalized, and those compartments are mine to raid now for the purpose of engaging an audience.
In the case of ‘Wardrobe Wednesday,’ it took a long, slow, poorly-dressed period of being Grunge Bob Squarepants. Then ten years of skating and one heart surgery later I was ready to acknowledge that my self-image wasn’t realistic. I wasn’t the fat guy that my brain had somehow been wired to believe. Reflective Therapy – I highly recommend it for all my guy friends. Don’t believe the funhouse mirror that is your brain.
What’s your ideal writing environment?
Noisy. I had a reclusive home in the hills and it just didn’t work. I need people and activity and noise and a constantly revolving landscape. It’s no fun being left alone with my brain.
I live near a series of restaurants, fast food and otherwise where I can go in and work for hours. They’ll put on the hockey game for me. There’s a bountiful supply of iced tea, salads and pretty waitresses. Need a detail for a character? Look up and watch someone walk by. Need a line? Listen to the banter. Then when you’re stalled, sure enough someone outside the window will bump into someone else's fender in the parking lot and next thing you know it’s changed not only their lives but the trajectory of the story you’ve been slogging through. By the end of the day you’re well-fed, have attractive friends and have sent out two or three manuscripts to publishers.
And you watched a hockey game.