Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Not Quite Normal

“You are almost obscenely normal, my dear. You really need to let the inner-writer-wacko out more often.” - My critique partner Ico.

Way back ages and ages ago being a writer type meant you were something like this:

A philosophizing old man.

You walked around draped in voluminous robes with one arm raised imperiously in order to appear as sophisticated as possible. These were the guys who shaped the world as we know it, for good or ill, though for the most part we tend to say “good.”

But somewhere along the way, being a writer type came to mean that you were almost guaranteed to be quirky. Maybe this state of wackiness derives from having one's head perpetually in the clouds. Maybe it stems from a need to sail against the wind. Or maybe, after so much critical scrutiny, writers simply come to the point of shrugging off the judgments of other people:

I'm beautiful in my own way, thank you very much.

But what about those of us who aren't really that quirky after all? We don't walk around quoting dead French poets or dress up in flamboyant costumes or stay up all night in our little writing den with a dozen cups of tea and then sleep the morning away.

We can still write... right? We can still be in the club?

You mean you can be artistic without acting adorably weird?

“I think it's part of your mystery that you appear normal on the surface,” Ico continued. “But underneath... you definitely have to be one of those people who only seems mostly normal.”

And maybe she's right. Maybe that's the kind of person I am. Because I am the type who walks into a room and forgets why I'm there because I've been listening to the imaginary people arguing in my head. I'm the type who has a tight little personal bubble, and everything inside it has to be just. so. My quirks aren't always the obvious kind, but if you could come take a vacation in the wilds inside my head, you wouldn't have any doubts that you'd gone some place not-quite-normal.

And that's good enough for me.

How about you other writer types? Just how “not normal” are you?


  1. Oh, I am so boring in real life which definitely makes me "not normal." Normal people are fascinating, intriguing folks and it's amazing to watch them do the things that they do. Sometimes I think that my writing is the only interesting thing I do but it's clearly not. I mean, can you imagine promoting a writing career to young kids?

    KIDS: What do you do for work?

    ME: I write.

    KIDS: How does that work?

    Me: Well, I think of ideas, sit down at a computer, and I write them down.

    KIDS: How is that work?

    ME: Well... um... you have to invest hours of your time typing on the keyboard. And sometimes, the ideas don't flow so you spend even more hours figuring out how they fit together. Like a puzzle?

    KIDS: Let me get this straight. You sit on your butt at a keyboard and type out. Sounds like homework.

    ME: Well, yeah. I get to "work" at "home."

    KIDS: Boring.

    ME: Hey! I'll have you know that plenty of people have made a career out of this and a fairly lucrative one as well.

    KIDS: How much have you made?

    ME: ...

    KIDS: Well?

    ME: When I get published...

    KIDS: You spend hours and hours of your life and you haven't made any money yet? Are you serious?

    ME: I enjoy it.

    KIDS: But you spend hours and hours writing and you still haven't gotten paid for it. How long has this been going on?

    ME: Seven years.

    KIDS: Wow dude. Don't quit your day job. What do you really do for work?

    ME: Doesn't matter. We're talking about the interesting part of my life.

    KIDS: Yeah, you're really selling yourself right here. If you're gonna be broke and miserable, why don't you at least try Hollywood. Plenty of broken dreams there but at least you'll get to meet some interesting and maybe even famous people.

    ME: What would I do in Hollywood. I can't act; I'm not that interesting.

    KIDS: You were just saying that you write. What's wrong with writing movie scripts?

    ME: Do you know how little those people get paid?

    KIDS: And how much are you making now?

    ME: Shut up. You're short.

    KIDS: That's a red herring argument. Stay on track.

    ME: How do you know what a red herring is?

    KIDS: English class.

    ME: You pay attention in English?

    KIDS: We have to pass some of our tests. Our moms get mad if we don't put in some effort.

    ME: Man, I didn't know what a red herring was until high school.

    KIDS: You sound real cut out for this kind of life. Who's next?

    ME: You feel the need to cut into somebody else?

    KIDS: You're too easy a target. We need a challenge.

    ME: Thanks you pukes.

    KIDS: Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

    1. See, here's how I would promote a writing career to kids...

      ME: Have you ever wanted to be a pirate?

      KIDS: Yes.

      ME: Have you ever wanted to go to Mars?

      KIDS: Yes!

      ME: Have you ever wanted to transform into a 40-ft tall robot of doom?

      KIDS: YES!!!

      ME: When you're a writer you can do all these things. You just have to put them in a book.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. KIDS: See that? She can advertise.

      ME: (grumble grumble) ... show off.


    4. Oh wow, how did I miss this post! This is what happens when you go parenting and working and fall off the Earth... people's lives keep going while you're away...

      Tee hee hee! Really my dearest, I had no idea that my off-the-cuff remarks would spark such fascinating introspection! I'm still in favor of quoting famous French people, of course. But I know all about your secret weirdness. I read your short horror stories and heard about the bombs you send your sibling. Your head is definitely a peculiar (and incredibly fun and wonderful) place.

      And I agree with Kendra, Brent--that was too funny!

      P.S. Audrey, we need to chat more often. I miss our conversations.

    5. You have too much dirt on me :)

  2. Normal, not-normal, they're overrated. I'd rather just be me, my un-categorized self. ;)

    Hahahahahaaaaah!! R-, I mean Brent, that was TOO funny! You had me in stitches! I finally know who the mystery man that started following my blog is, lol. I need to catch up on yours. :)

    1. Of all the people I know, you are one of the most in touch with who you are. I really admire that about you.

    2. Thanks Audrey. :)
      I think it comes with age, you know. Give it a couple of decades and you'll be feeling the same, I'm sure.

    3. Possibly. Though I know several people much older than you who are still trying to find themselves.

  3. Replies
    1. Indeed. I am always intrigued by the glimpses I get inside your brain :)

  4. Writing combines the joys of spending long hours staring at a screen, getting criticized by friends, rejected by strangers, low pay, lack of recognition, and endlessly revising sentences. The best you can hope for is to resubmit with changes so that the editor can taunt you a second time. (That was a quote from a French guy, in case you missed it)