On A Lighter Note: Replacing My Usual Writing With Humour

If I am going to write, I might as well make it funny.

There’s something wrong with everything I write. An air of seriousness, as if it’s a grim story of an unloved grumpy old man nearing his life. As if my life is a movie of perpetual seriousness, with no comedy in it. But I digress. There is nothing wrong with having humor in your writing; everybody loves a bit of color in their lives after all.

Most of the time I keep telling myself, maybe the topics I’ve chosen to write about are serious as fuck and not funny, by default. Dart your eyes around, and you’ll see “Technology. Thoughts. Fiction.” scrawled at the top. Pretty dour indeed. Oh, who am I kidding? The only considerable effort I’ve put in writing resulted in a posts about life and its spectrum of emotions, depression included. Happiness sold separately. As if I’m some whiny emo kid who only notices the shadows on a bright sunny day. I still have to remind myself periodically that no topic exists which couldn’t have a funny side to it.

So screw my style of writing. No seriously. If I am going to write, I might as well make it funny. But how?

After much pondering, I’ve realised that the answer to that lies outside the digital realms of our devices, in the real world, where there are no zeroes or ones to worry about. Instead, we have bad cholestrol, climate change and Donald Trump to worry about. Oh, and that bit about pondering to come up with the answer? It didn’t take too much time, I just made that bit up.

The answer lies in the real world. Think about your everyday life. I’m pretty sure it’s so routine for you now that your life is zipping past you at warp speed. Mine is, at any rate. Or am I not living life right? *Cue existential crisis.*

Everyday life is filled with situations and little ironies, things that we tend to miss out. I mean, how else do sitcom writers and standup comedians work, right? If most comedians are like Darth Vader of their fields, my writing, including this thinly-veiled attempt at inducing humor into my writing, is like young whiny Anakin Skywalker.

I might be rambling on at this point, but movies have got most things wrong. The people they show in movies, with bushy greasy beards and huge bellies and stinky T-shirts and couches littered with Cheetos? The quintessential “guy without a life”? Pffft, those people have a life. How do I know? I’m one of them.

I’m not the crisp, sassy guy that my profile picture might lead you to believe. I’m just a guy munching down fatty foods while channel-surfing. I don’t remember who it was, but I remember someone telling me adding in quotes to posts makes them more shareable.

I wish money grew on trees, so that deforestation wouldn’t actually be a thing.

There, I said it.

Now, all of this is a poor attempt at “being funny” and stereotyping certain things. Maybe even a replacement for my usual style of writing. But you get my point, even poor humor is acceptable. Keep looking for a bit of irony or comedy in your life and you’re bound to find it everywhere. Then, incorporate it into writing. I’ve just started my journey and there’s a million more ways to improve my writing.

Every time I insert a poorly written joke into my posts, I run the risk of it bombing. But it’s better to have one line in your article bomb than having to deal with the fallout of your post bombing from being too serious. As I put the cap back on my flow of words, I leave you with one question. Why so serious?

What are your suggestions for including a bit of humor in your writing? Let me know in the comments.

A new year and a new semester has started, so I wanted to just post a couple of updates before I get lost in the sea of work.

A recent trip to Kodaikanal, a hill resort in the southern state of Tamil Nadu with friends was a refreshing change to the routine existence I have managed to carve out. The various spots we visited, the hundreds (possibly thousands) of pictures we took, and most of all, the experiences I had were definitely the highlights of the trip.

Remember Prompt Replies? My little experiment in fiction in which I used daily prompts from The Daily Post to craft a connected story. I figured that instead of spamming this blog with chapters of the story, I could move it to a blog of its own. Not only would it keep this blog clean, but it’d also provide a nice home for the story. That’s why, Prompt Replies has moved to a new home.

These are the small updates I have for you now. More fleshed out, longer posts are arriving soon and as always, thanks for reading.

Prompt Replies Chapter 3: Privacy

Soon, rain drops were racing downwards on his window. The drops made their way down carefully, as if measuring and planning their every move before committing to it. Michael gazed at the city below, with people running for cover.

His location in the building gave him a cozy sense of security and privacy that he found appealing. Here he was, looking down towards the city, watching the people move about their daily business, like a child observing a colony of ants. And yet, perched upon this viewpoint, Michael was sure he wasn’t the object of observation by anyone else; he had his privacy and he liked it.

A lot of us think a good life entails spending every important moment with people you love, people who matter the most. Well, I think, a little privacy and solitude is just as important.” Michael turned around and brought his attention back to the guest in his room. “Yes, privacy and isolation is what I value the most.”, he replied. “Sometimes, I just want to run away from everything, far away, where there aren’t any of you.”

Prompt Replies Chapter 2: Invitation

The invitation had been sitting on his desk for quite some time before he actually picked it up. Michael gazed at the envelope before deciding he was interested enough to actually open it. Inside was a letter informing him of the marathon. He had never considered himself an athletic person, but he was determined to act upon his fitness goals.

I could start training now, be done with the marathon and actually feel like I’ve accomplished my resolutions. Two birds with a single stone.”, Michael thought. The thought of having to wake up early made him shudder, but Michael was approaching his late 30s. He knew well that fitness should be more important to him than it already was.

He flipped the letter back onto the desk, almost intending to forget about the whole thing. His attention was drawn by another event around him. Grey clouds had been gathering the whole morning. They were about to burst open.

Prompt Replies Chapter 1: Marathon

The muscles in his legs, his joints, his ligaments and even his lungs hurt. They screamed out every time he took a step. Every few minutes he questioned the sanity of the person who would inflict this type of suffering on oneself. He questioned his own sanity in having joined this marathon.

The journey had been an arduous one, beset with challenges of increasing difficulty. But the end result would be well worth it, he kept telling himself. The end was near; it was in sight. All he had to do was push himself a bit more, a bit harder. Just a little bit more and it would be done.

The sun was at its zenith and the heat was on the rise. Sweat rolled down his forehead and onto his eyes. He ignored them all, for the end was in sight.

Prompt Replies: An Experiment In Fiction

As someone who has dabbed their fingers in fiction a couple of times, I really want to create a narrative of people and stories and a whole world which they inhabit. However, the one thing that often stops me from writing more fiction is the fact that I’m often dry when it comes to plots.

I find it hard to create a basic plot for my stories, despite being able to create complex characters and conveying their thoughts easily. And without a good plot, well, the story is of no use.

So a solution I’ve found is to write a story using the daily prompts from Daily Post. Each prompt will serve as the inspiration for chapters of a long running-story. The prompts change daily and might not have any relation whatsoever with each other. This means that the onus is on me to craft a sensible story using each random prompt. It’s great because it helps me develop my skills in writing, so what more could I ask for?

I’m calling this ‘Prompt Replies’, because, they are replies. To prompts. Yeah, it definite sounded funnier in my head. So anyway, each chapter includes 15 sentences and will use a writing prompt taken from The Daily Post. I’ll also probably set up a category to make the chapters easier to find.

So what do you think of this experiment? Is it worth my time, or is this destined to fail? Let me know in the comments! 

Recollections From December

December was a fast-paced, busy month for me, with semester finals and various other activities that expanded to fill all of my time. I’m really happy 2016 is behind us and I can’t wait to experience everything 2017 throws our way; after 2016, I’m pretty sure nothing can be worse than that. This post should have come out sooner and before the year ended, but it got sidelined due to my confession post. Here are a couple of thoughts I happened to write down and other things I’ve been upto in December. 
Certain days of the month, I wished to myself that I was better at consoling people and cheering them up, motivating them when they were down in the dumps. When we’re younger, we believed consoling needed to be done to make sure that those people forget the pain and misery. As we’ve grown up, however, I think we’ve realised that pain is an integral part of our lives, and now, we only console people to make them forget the pain temporarily. The pain and misery is still in them, hidden out of sight. For now.

December was also the month where I realised (for like the millionth time) that my impulse purchases are a bitch I have to learn to deal with. I spent a whole lot of money on things and activities I didn’t really need and later regretted them. This month made me realise I need to get my tendencies in order and not be such an asshole when it comes to money. And this is just the 4th of the month!

By the 5th, I’m basically hating myself for my spending spree. Self-loathing and what not. It certainly did look like my depressive episodes were about to make a comeback. Yet another thing that completely surprised me in this period was how unpredictable humans can be when it comes to reactions. Say one thing at a particular time and you get one reaction. Say the same thing at a different time and you get a totally unrelated reaction. The main obstacle I face in dealing with humans is that every word I utter is a ticking time bomb. I can never be sure which word of mine will trigger an avalanche of sorrow and sadness in others. Sometimes I just hate myself for having ruined someone’s perfect day and sometimes I hate having to interact with people in such a careful manner.

The rest of the month passed by, with a couple more cynical thoughts that are just too silly to share here. The highlight of the month was that I finally got to see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, a movie I’ve been waiting for since April. Without getting into much spoilers, I just absolutely loved the movie and the dark gritty tone it took, unlike the other Star Wars movies. Zack Syder, if you’re reading this, please do watch Rogue One, that’s how you make a good, gritty, dark movie. Whereas The Force Awakens had a sense of childish adventure in it, with Rey and Finn and introducing us to the new generation, Rogue One got right down into the war, in a very sombre way. The main challenge for Rogue One is that everyone knows the ending, by default. We have Episode IV, so we know the rebel spies manage to steal the Death Star plans. Where Rogue One shines is in the execution. It certainly did feel like the stakes were pretty high and there were certain points where I really doubted if they’d be able to pull it off anyway. The movie starts a bit slow and jumps a lot between planets but that’s just the first act. The other two acts are edge-of-your-seat action and great storytelling.

Diving deep into spoilers now, here’s what I loved about the movie.

SPOILERS AHEAD!

  • The movie showed us a glimpse of all the evil things the Rebel Alliance has done. It’s not a black and white Universe anymore, with the Empire being evil and the Rebellion pure good, as was conveyed in the Original Trilogy. The Rebel Alliance has done its share of morally questionable acts too. I loved it when Cassian killed his informant to prevent any information leaking to the Empire. He had no choice but to do it, for the greater good of the Rebel Alliance.
  • The diversity of the cast in the movie. A Mexican actor in the leading role, a female as the leader of the team, a much more inclusive team than in other movies. Now, I don’t fully embrace the idea of inclusion merely for the sake of diversity, but Rogue One did it in a subtle way that didn’t seem shoehorned in. The characters, their history, takes us away from the central storyline of the Skywalker family and introduces us to normal people, living in the Galaxy and shows us what the rebellion means to them, how it affects them. 
  • The Vader scene at the end. Hot damn, that scene made me squeal like a 12 year old girl. The scene could be considered fan service for all the fan boys out there, but I believe it is probably the best representation of Darth Vader on screen. It just shows how much of a badass killing machine he was. As thousands of people have noted before, the movie looked just like a horror slash-flick when Vader started slicing through Rebel scum like a hot knife through butter. Also, Disney, I wouldn’t mind paying for a solo Vader movie where it’s just two hours of Darth Vader slicing through Jedi and rebels and hunting them down. 
  • The characters being killed off at the end. Not many movies have the guts to kill off the entirety of its cast, but that’s exactly what Rogue One did. There they were, with no way to get out alive. They are now unsung heroes of the war, who might go down in history with no recognition or fame. They gave up their lives trying to steal the plans and transmitting it, in the hopes that someone might be able to destroy the Death Star. This gives a whole new meaning to the title of Episode IV. The sacrifices made by the rebels take on a whole new level of depth after you’ve watched Rogue One. 

To celebrate the end of the year and to welcome the new year, I did something pretty different. Instead of hanging around with a book and wishing everyone at the stroke of midnight, I went out to a New Year’s Eve party, with real people. Trying to overcome my social anxiety in this way, dancing to music and being in large crowds of people is a pretty new experience for me, and was kind of unsettling at first. But hey, it’s a new experience and I kind of liked it. We rung in the new year with great excitement and it felt good to have friends right next to me during and after the countdown.

Now, ringing in the new year means one thing: resolutions. I’m not really a resolutions kind of guy, and I subscribe to the idea that the best time to make changes is now. However, this year I’ve planned to read and write more. I’ve actually made a list of books I’d like to read and/or finish reading this year. 

  • 1984 by George Orwell. Yes, I began reading this back in July but I still haven’t completed it. 
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. 
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  • The Confidence Game: Why We Fall For It… Every Time by Maria Konnikkova
  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  • Are We Smart Enough To Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal 
  • Idiot Brain: What Your Head Is Really Up To by Dean Burnett
  • The Lonely City: Adventures In The Art Of Being Alone by Olivia Laing

There’s no guarantee that I might be able to finish this list, but that’s certainly what I’m hoping for. A couple of books have been on my list for quite a long time, but haven’t yet been purchased because book prices in India are just too high, even online marketplaces have stupidly high prices because they import books. The high prices of most books in India is the topic of another long post and I could go on and on about it. Public libraries aren’t an option either because they’re poorly funded, the selection of books isn’t that good either and the whole system of public libraries is pretty much in shambles in India. I don’t want to go off on a tangent here, so that’s pretty much my reading list for the year.

How was your December? How is the new year looking for you? We’re already 10 days into it, are your resolutions still holding up? Let me know in the comments below.