It’s amazing what the voices in your head can tell you. Just this week, they have been nagging me like that not-so-favourite aunt who pesters you to get married and sets you up on blind dates. Sure, I’ve been ignoring them – the voices – like everything else in my life, but I thought the whole experience was interesting in its own right.
Much like the ‘bite me in the ass’ tag and my salon experiences, the posts I write about not being able to write, seem poised to be a regular feature, in as much as it shows how repetitive and mundane my life is.
A month has passed since I’ve written – not just here, but even on paper. It’s a feeling you and I know all too well. There are multiple reasons why I might have relapsed into not writing, but that’s not what we are here for. Terrified that I was suffering from a creative-erectile-dysfunction, the voices in my head – let’s call it my ‘intuition’ – rallied together and offered little nuggets of wisdom and suggestions. At this point, I should tell you that said suggestions fell on deaf ears and were quickly scrapped.
When you’ve been reading for a while, you get to a point where you feel you could write just as well as the writers you enjoy reading, something experts call ‘delusions of grandeur’. I know I am nowhere close to being as good as them, but that didn’t stop my intuition.
“Flash fiction. That’s what you need right now. Sit down for 20 minutes, crank that ol’ brain and write a short story. You’ll be back in the game in no time,” said the first voice. “Try something quirky – write about a girl who goes into a mysterious forest for some reason.” While I didn’t have to, I rolled my eyes for a pinch of dramatic effect and reminded the voice I had written something very similar to that. “Yeah sure, but it wasn’t creepy enough, make it more like Jeff VanderMeer’s ‘Annihilation’. That’ll be pretty easy.” The problem is I can’t write a weird weird story without making it the wrong kind of weird. Now that the word ‘creepy’ had been mentioned, a second voice popped up, “You want to write something creepy and unsettling, you can’t do better than writing something like Stephen King, you know.”
Here’s the fact – I’ve been reading ‘It’ by Stephen King and it has got me hooked like a fish on a line. There’s this unnerving chill that travels down your spine when you read King’s description of the township of Derry and it really adds to the grim atmosphere of the story. You can feel the rusting, dirty town breathe and move on every page and you are always aware of it. I haven’t made much progress – it is, after all, a huge book and I’m only 30% through, but the characters, their development, and just the fun and innocence of childhood are what make this book and King’s writing shine. Now though I am gushing about him, this is my first Stephen King book, and I already know that I can never be as descriptive as him. Characters, places, and inner thoughts and turmoil are all so so vivid and written with the sole intention of pulling you, the reader, in and keeping you there, in a good way.
“Bah! Horror is just a bunch of hogwash. Ghosts jumping out of the darkness isn’t scary. Being trapped is scary,” said Voice No. 3 now. I almost did write it too. I’ve always wanted to write a story that has the protagonist trapped in the end, in a way that echoed the reader’s own life. But given how little experience I have in life and in writing, that’s not something I could pull off. “Write something with a bit of irony in it. People love ironic endings, they go crazy over it!” said the fourth voice. By this point, it was getting pretty loud in there.
Irony. That’s a great device to use in my writings. So like everyone else, I watched a couple of YouTube videos on irony. I didn’t get any writing done, but now I do know of the three types of irony: situational, verbal and dramatic. So I guess that’s progress, maybe?
From irony, I was recommended satire, since it does share some of the caustic bite present in verbal irony. “That’s easy,” I said to myself. “Too easy.” The fact that political leaders in my own country – and others – were making satire easier to create seemed like a red herring to me. We live in very strange times when customary norms of leaders are being re-written every day, and facts and truths can be made up out of thin air, like capital in banks. When leaders of the free world are indulging in behaviour that is traditionally considered ‘satirical’, something’s not right.
“That’s right. You’re on edge all the time now. The news has you going crazy; you’re in your 20s and you’re already losing hair! Try something creative, something peaceful. Like haikus – those geniuses in Japan really did know how to lead a Zen life.” I don’t even remember which voice it was that said this. Creative writing, at least in my mind, is reserved for Tumblr, though I do know a lot of bloggers who write poems and stories on WordPress too. But thinking about Tumblr led me down a different rabbit-hole.
You see, I enable 2-Factor Authentication on every website that allows it. For the uninitiated, when you enable 2FA, you have to enter a code in addition to your username and password combo. This code is usually sent to you via SMS or – as in my case – through an authenticator app. This means that even if someone gets my username and password, they cannot log in unless they have the one-time use 2FA code. I recently changed my phone and tried to log in to Tumblr, only to be faced with a 2FA screen. My Tumblr account was still linked to the authentication app that was on my old phone. Note the emphasis on the was. I’d wiped my old phone and that meant my 2FA app was gone! Thankfully, I was able to recover all my other accounts, except Tumblr.
Unsure of what to do, I contacted Tumblr Support. They asked me to “take a picture of yourself holding a piece of paper that says “Tumblr, this is literally me,” then send the photo in a reply to this email.” They would then compare my face to my Tumblr profile picture and turn off 2FA from their side. Easy enough. Except for the slight discrepancy in my face. The photo I’d uploaded to Tumblr was one in which I had a month-old beard. Never tell me the odds, but just 2 days before I emailed Support, I’d shaved my face clean. Not a single hair to be seen on my face. What are the chances, right?
So as I’m writing this, I’m waiting for my beard – or a decent stubble – to grow back before I send my photographic plea to Tumblr – all to regain access to my account. The support ticket is still open and I’m sure Drew from Tumblr is wondering if that wasn’t a possible social engineering trick. Anyway, back to topic. The fact that I was locked out of my possible haiku/fan-fiction Tumblr was the last straw on the metaphorical camel’s back.
Side note: Damn, I’m on fire with my animal game today. Fishes, rabbits and camels.
From a very convoluted point of view – my point of view – this whole entry is ironic. Situational irony, to be precise. The title promised you I’d help you with the voices in your head, the introduction had you thinking I would end this with a story I’d written. Neither happened. Ironic.
PS: Before you get your pitchforks ready and claim I know nothing about irony – situational or otherwise – let me point out that I know how thin a thread I have that makes this ironic. It’s not a bit of a stretch, it’s a huge stretch to think of this entry as ironic, in any manner possible. But hey, I had to write something.