Friday, September 27, 2013

What is Normal?

This is a question I ask myself a lot. I have never considered myself “normal” and don’t think I ever would. In reality though, what does normal mean? We throw around phrases like “the normal girl next door”, “normal teenager”, “normal business man”, and so on. In this case normal almost has the connotation of being boring.

The fact is, what is normal in one society may not be the norm in another. Normal among the indigenous people of Papua New Guinea is to live in mud huts and hunt and gather your food. Essentially the word normal then becomes obsolete. It’s based on perspective and has neither good nor bad connotations.

This being said, I’ve noticed a trend with my characters: none of them are “normal” in their worlds. This is of course if we go by the definition of normal off “Usual: conforming to the usual standard, type, or custom.” Most of my characters go out of their way to not be normal and in some cases places in a situation that pummels the normalcy out of them. In the midst of all my characters, perhaps the most normal is Penn from “Dark Cell.” He is a typical Gorgon teenager who has powers. In the mystical land I made up, where everyone had magical powers, he is the norm. What sets him apart is his quest to save Ness from being executed.

In Summer’s Hollow the word normal comes up a handful of times. Rylie talks about her less than normal family, her not so normal hobbies, and of course the fact that her life gets turned upside down when the town is attacked by dark spirits. In the new installment (which I’m currently working on) explores more into that feeling of normalcy or lack thereof.The sequel takes place 13 years after the first book. Rylie is now in her career, has found her true love, and has all around moved passed what had happened in the first book. She thinks she is finally normal once again. That is until she journeys back to Summer’s Hollow for a long weekend. Interestingly enough the setting of Summer’s Hollow itself is referred to as a “normal small farm town” but once again has deep, dark secrets that set it apart from other “normal towns.”

Emma Carmichael is pretty much the embodiment of what is not normal. The very fact that the series is called “Chronicles of a Freak” tells you that nothing about her is normal. In her world there are monsters, spirits, demons, and all other things that get bump in the night. The problem is there are only a couple of people that actually believe in those things. As a result she has made it her mission to save the ignorant while somehow still maintaining her life. We see the biggest impact when she is in high school. There are times where she does try to be the normal teenager: goes out on dates, attends school functions, and joins the volleyball team. It seems though every time that she tries to get involved “things” crop up out of nowhere. She takes the new boy in school out to a movie festival – they’re attacked by a monster. She has her first sexual encounter - it's broken up by a venegeful spirit. All of these impeded her from living out that so called normal life.

These are just some examples from my writing. I’m interested to see everyone else take on normal or not so normal characters in other books.

The image above is from which is a really poignant post from a teenager on what normal is.


Unknown said...

As I have gotten older, I find myself abstaining from using the word "normal". It is such subjective word that is often over used as a way to mold someone in to something convenient for that demographic. I think I am normal because I went to college, traveled, held a job, saved money, shower, etc.... But people have called me abnormal because I am almost 30, unmarried, and childless. And in my culture, this is certainly not normal. So in reading about abnormal characters, I look at Scarlett OHara from Gone with the Wind, thrice divorced and ruthless for her time. She certainly didn't fit the typical southern belle role. It's interesting to see how small a world the writer presented and how well she managed to differentiate Scarlett from what was considered to be normal. I rambled...I am sorry. The gist, I enjoy this topic, and this post.

Sam Curtin said...

Rambling is always allowed on my blog! I too love Scarlett OHara :-)

Unknown said...

Normal is way overrated.

Magaly Guerrero said...

In the words of Kassia Van Dyke, "Normal is relative." I think that after all what Rylie goes through, she's pretty normal.

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