Tulpas for Writers

Essay by
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a broken polaroid camera

I hate myself too often to keep up with my own ideas of my own writing schedule. I will have an idea and want to tell a story, but too quickly say to myself: but I can’t tell that story. I will be no good.

Who is this I? I’ve never met her.

We have a voice in our head that we are talking to all the time. We are talking to it, aren’t we? This implies we have got to have at least two. You may have had this one telling-you-what-to-do voice running in your head since the time you can remember. Perhaps this is what you remember. In a ticker tape type world maybe we only remember words. I cannot remember anything before I could talk about it. This voice must start out as yours. But somewhere along the way, far too fucking often, and in most cases, it gets hijacked: by parents, teachers, or even worse the television and the newspapers, both of those now being more instant and more all the time, but from the same place and the same small minded type- and tele- -set people.

Let’s do an experiment. Read this in an old woman’s voice:

What’s the matter dearie? You can’t stomach meema’s own prune procteration?

Who’s voice was that? That wasn’t your voice. Yet you didn’t read it aloud now, did you?

If we are talking to ourselves, we have to have two voices. And there: I just gave you a third.

So let’s do another: discount ’our own voice’ for a moment, and think like that old lady. I’m not gonna give you the line. What would she say next? What would she think about the nogglewagger wandering down the street? Think in her voice. Think what she would think. Write it down. Now that’s not you writing is it? It feels like that old lady! But you’ve never met her: you just invented her!

And anything that you invent is also you.

This is what we call playing, and from our first breath of eyes wide awake we do it all the time.

Picture the writer you want to be. Hear their disembodied voice. And now keep hearing it, and write that down.

If you don’t like what your usual all the time voice is saying to you, create a new one: a new you-character in your head, with a burning temper and a furious impatience for that little twerp harping at him. Maybe this one is a detective with a strong jawline and a fedora hat. What would he say to that voice in your head, across from his street, calling you bad: He better run.

This is what you want to say, without you getting in the way. When we’re writing as ourselves, we have a thought and then think to counter it: I wouldn’t say that. No? You just thought it: so you already did. Everything we’ve ever experienced is locked inside our own mind, a space smaller than one foot cubed. The problem is we picture ourselves, the I inside it all, somehow even smaller. Look in front of you. That wall’s not there: it’s in your head. You’re the wall. And you can be all the people in the street, too. Make a street full of real nice people inside your head.

P.S. Some nice voices that I like to think of-in rather than “my own”:
The reader for PKD in this 90s doc: Philip K. Dick – A Day In The Afterlife (complete) – YouTube
Stacy Keach of the Twilight Zone Radio Dramas: look it up
Mixed ASMR: ASMR Role Play – Twisted Fairy Captures You – YouTube
why not alien too? ASMR Roleplay Alien Language Lesson (Mouth Sounds) – YouTube

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