Zachary Perkins poses for a photo during a photo shoot for his debut memoir, "How Much Time Do You Have?," Dec. 11, 2021. 

Trigger warning: This article contains discussion of sexual assault, tragedy and mental illness.

While in quarantine throughout the pandemic, Zachary Perkins found himself with ample time to think of his past and relive his experiences. As a form of self-expression, Perkins, a Texas State alumnus, picked up journaling to document his thoughts and ideas.

Along the way, he realized that sharing the words he wrote could potentially help others. This realization pushed him to self-publish his debut memoir that details his experiences from his early childhood to where he is today.

Writing is nothing new to Perkins. Since he was younger, writing was a medium with which he could express, create and entertain himself. He loved writing so much that whenever he got in trouble, his mother would take away all his pencils, papers and markers rather than his video games because she knew how much he liked writing.

"I've written everything since I was a kid. I've written TV shows, treatments for movies, songs, like whatever it [was], I was going to write it," Perkins said.

While the thought of writing his own book was always part of the plan, he never knew how soon he could make it happen. When Perkins initially began writing his memoir, “How Much Time Do You Have?,” he had no intentions of sharing his thoughts with the rest of the world. However, at the start of quarantine, Perkins found himself with a lot of time on his hands, causing him to dig up past memories, traumas and experiences.

“I was sexually assaulted, and I wrote it [down], and it was the first time I had acknowledged it to anyone," he said. "It was only for myself but [it] felt good to get that out ... I just felt that it was the only way that I was going to make peace with it. The only way that I was going to be able to release it was if I just said, 'this is what was going on in my life.' And I guess in a roundabout way, I wanted the decisions and my mental state during that time to make sense to the people who I was around."

Writing became almost therapeutic to Perkins, and he decided that publishing a memoir would not only be a great help to him, but also to others who may have gone through similar experiences. His goal shifted when he realized he could help people by sharing his story.

In April 2020, he began journaling and ultimately committed to writing every day with the intention of sharing his story with the public.

"I just want people to understand the importance of accepting their [stories] and their [journeys] so that they can get to their next journey in life ... I think that it's really important that we share our stories that are so universal," Perkins said. "I feel like [people] suffer in silence so often [but they] don't have to because [people] have so many of the same shared experiences."

“How Much Time Do You Have?” is broken down into different eras of Perkins' life. The seven chapters of the book contain stories from different moments of time, such as when he was in kindergarten, middle school and high school. Other chapters are more in-depth, detailing specific life moments and the truths that come with them.

Throughout the book, Perkins opens up about his sexuality, his time on academic probation, being sexually assaulted and his feelings surrounding an incident involving his best friend. Each chapter is named after Perkins' favorite songs and albums. He thought adding this personal touch would help readers find out more about him while also giving the text a light-hearted feel.

The title "How Much Time Do You Have?" is a nod to a counseling session that he was advised to do at Texas State after having severe anxiety attacks during classes. During the session, his response to questions about his mental health was, "how much time do you have?" Perkins said the title was a way for him to add his own humor and personality to his book while also posing the question to his readers who are taking time to read his story.

Through his memoir, Perkins wants to give people guidance on how to navigate certain experiences, a form of guidance he did not have. After he was sexually assaulted, he said he didn't know who to go to or what to do next. Perkins wants the book to be a resource to people who went through or are going through the same things he did.

A section of the book touches on an experience that he had with his childhood best friend, Joslyn Goodloe, when their friend was charged with the murder of her two-year-old son four years ago. The event changed Perkins and Goodloe's lives and still affects them both today.

"Through time, it's gotten easier I'd say, but it's definitely something that weighs on me continuously," Goodloe said. "It's, you know, an everyday battle and struggle. I think about it more all the time. It definitely kind of switched my perspective on people in general, you know, because you can think you know someone, you can speak to somebody a certain way, but you never know what's going on behind closed doors."

Goodloe and Perkins have been friends since they were 11 years old. Considering all of what they had been through together, Perkins was grateful for Goodloe's friendship during that time. Perkins didn't think many people understood his feelings throughout that experience and said if it weren't for Goodloe, he would not have overcome what he has today.

As for Goodloe, she has been happy to support Perkins throughout his book-writing process and has enjoyed seeing the dedication he has for his endeavor.

"I 100% encourage it. I back it fully; he has my complete support. I think it's necessary for the story to be shared, especially just in the way that like, things are kind of covered up or tried to be silenced," Goodloe said.

During the times Perkins questioned his writing choices or felt the stress of the process, Goodloe encouraged him to keep going. She believes a lot of people will be interested in reading about his experiences.

"He has like a gravitational pull I guess you could say, you know, he's very illuminating. Whenever he comes into a room [it] kind of captures people," Goodloe said. "His story being told is something that a lot of people aren't privy to and I think everybody's really going to love it."

When it came to writing out the details of his personal trauma, Perkins said it was a difficult process and he often had to take two-to-three-month long breaks between chapters due to how emotionally exhausting it was to revisit his past. Despite the difficulties that came with writing his memoir, he is relieved now that it's complete, as he finally feels in control of his own narrative.

Aside from the deeper topics covered in his memoir, Perkins also writes about funny memories from his childhood and adds his own voice to the story to keep it true to himself. He said writing the book has made him appreciate special moments in his life that he might have overlooked before.

Currently, Perkins is in the final editing stages before the book is released. He said the writing process has been long and hard, and it took several trials and errors to ultimately get to the point he is at now. Throughout the writing and editing process, he leaned on one of his former professors at Texas State after graduating in August 2021 with a degree in public relations and minors in communication studies and pop culture.

Cassandra La Clair, a senior lecturer in the Department of Communication Studies, was glad to help Perkins when he first reached out to her. La Clair had Perkins in several classes throughout his years at Texas State, and before Perkins began writing his book, La Clair was finishing up her own.

“He saw me kind of going through the process, and was so encouraging and supportive of me, being he was in my classes … and then that's where, you know, he reached out to me when he was going through the process. And so, it felt really cool to be able to give him any insight that I learned along the way,” La Clair said.

La Clair helped Perkins edit some excerpts from his book and gave advice on how he could publish his book and stay true to himself in his writing. While helping him, La Clair got to know more about her former student than she ever knew before.

“When I read what I read there were things that I just had no idea," she said. "And it helped me kind of weave this picture of him as a more complex person than even I had understood. That's why sharing stories and experiences can be so beautiful, because we have a tendency to just see people for what we want to see, rather than really understanding what's kind of brought them to be the person that's standing in front of us."

To accompany his memoir, Perkins created a docu-series called "Exactly-Zach" to promote his book and give people more insight into his story. When writing his book became a priority, he put his YouTube channel on pause. He thought creating a series on his channel was a great way to promote and connect with people about his book, while also keeping his channel active.

La Clair and Goodloe make appearances in the docu-series, which is set to have three episodes. La Clair joins Perkins in a discussion of the book's writing process, while Goodloe joins him in an in-depth conversation about their feelings on their shared experience. Two of the episodes have already been released on YouTube.

Currently, Perkins lives in Austin where he is working on developing his own screenplay and hopes to have the pilot finished by the end of the year. In the future, Perkins looks to move to Los Angeles to continue pursuing his goals in writing, producing, teaching as well as becoming an artists and repertoire (A&R) representative for a music label and possibly making music of his own.

"How Much Time Do You Have?" is set to release on April 12. Perkins hopes by sharing his story he can be a guiding light to those who feel lost and help them take control of their narratives just as he did.

"I think that you can only move forward in life if you're willing to give yourself grace," Perkins said. "I'm very aware of the things that have happened to me, and I acknowledge them, and I accept them, but they don't have to be me ... I don't have to be stuck in those moments anymore, and I think that was something that I really have only recently realized, like, toward the tail end of writing."

To keep up with Perkins and for updates on "How Much Time Do You Have?," follow his Instagram @howmuchtimebook and Twitter @exzachtchange. To watch Perkins' docu-series, "Exactly-Zach," visit his YouTube channel, The Chronicles of Zachary.

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