Thursday, September 24, 2015

In Search of Normal

When I was a kid, I assumed that my family was normal. That we were just like everyone else, and that everyone else was just like us.

This is how kids see the world, because its the only thing they've known. So regardless of how odd their childhood situation may be, and mine wasn't that different than most of my friends, things always feel normal.

It isn't until you're an adult that you realize normal doesn't exist, that as a place, it's as mythical as Atlantis. And yet, unless you're one of the few people in the world who have somehow managed to moved from childhood to adulthood to parenthood without any difficulties along the way, (And yes, I know a few people like this. They aren't writers.:) ) part of us is always searching for it.

We think that our life is not what it should be.

We think that our kids aren't as well equipped as they should be, that we failed them as parents.

We wonder how our parents managed to give us this amazing, healthy, NORMAL, life, and our lives feel like we put our pants on backwards. How did this happen?

This is especially true for artists. I can tell you that I never considered this life when I was a teenager. I'm a bit of late bloomer, but when I think back through the years, everything from my divorce to my battle with depression to my career changes, none of that was planned. And yet, every time I wrestled with something new, I longed for those childhood days when everything was simple.

When everything was normal.

Why do think you hear people longing for the "good ole days." They're searching for normal.


What I'm saying is that your life isn't normal, and never will be. And for my fellow writers, this is a very good thing. It allows you to dig into your character's lives without judgement. And nothing turns off a reader more quickly than writers who judge their characters. You can have distasteful characters, but you have to at least understand where they're coming from.

And for the rest of you fellow dreamers, I would suggest you avoid 'normal' at all costs. Like a siren calling from shore, it will pull you off your path. People are going to tell you that your dream is ridiculous. They will. They will push you to be more like them. I suggest you answer them this way.

Be different.

Embrace it.

Don't worry if someone says "you're weird." You don't want to hang out with that person anyway, because they're probably a jerk. (And jealous)

The greatest memories in this life are the ones that come unexpectedly. And the only way that happens is if you're willing to take a few chances.

Be bold.

Stop searching for normal and start living.

Go get 'em, tiger.