by James L. Rubart
You know you're not a normal, right? Just in case you're the 1% of novelists who don't realize this, trust me, you're not a normal.
I know, it's a shock. But it's true.
I first heard the term back in 2007 when Brandilyn Collins encouraged the attendees of a conference to be considerate of the other people staying in the hotel. The normals. I laughed because that's a perfect description of those who aren't writers.
You're probably married to a normal. Or work with a normal. Are friends with normals. But if you're reading this column, you are not one.
Typical Conversation At Holiday Parties This Time Of Year Between Novelists and Normals
"What are you doing? Texting? Stop it, we're at a dinner party." (Spouse of novelist.)
"I can't. I have to write down what Fredrica just said. It was great!"
"Your whip? You don't have a whip."
"My book, my manuscript, the story I'm working on."
"You're embarrassing me."
"But that line will make the scene. I don't want to forget it."
"I don't care!" (Whispered with force.)
"You don't care?" (Sulky face.)
"No. I. Don't. Care."
But that's just one example isn't it? We put our normals through the wringer within the wringer. Yet the normals in our lives believe in us, encourage us, listen to us ... and listen to us ... and listen to us.
As I've frequently said, Darci (my wife) talked me off the ledge so often in the early days she set up a lawn chair out there.
With that in mind, here are a few ideas on what to get the normals in your life for Christmas this year:
- Print out a mock gift certificate that entitles your normal to a date night where nothing about writing will be discussed.
- Stop telling your normal (for two weeks) about the conversation your characters just had in your head and how frustrating it is that they want to do something you totally oppose.
- Pretend that encouraging e-mail you got from a reader, or editor, or agent, isn't as significant as the first time man set foot on the moon.
- Pretend that devastating rejection or review isn't as significant as the explosion of the Hindenburg.
- When you get to that point where you're 70 percent of the way through your WIP and everything in you says, "It's horrible! It's dreck! It would make people puke their guts out!" don't express this belief to your normal.
- When you tell your normal, "I'll be done with this blog post by 7:30pm and we can start the Christmas movie then!" actually be done by 7:45. They can only keep dinner warm so long. (Not that this is real life example or anything.)
- Thank them. We need them. They are the rock in so many of our lives.
- Be more present in their lives than you are in your character's lives.
- Finally, jump into their world. Ask them point blank, "What can I do to support you and your dreams?"
Yeah, I know, crazy to think there people unlike us ... but yes, they live among us, and if we want them to keep living among us, let's make like Santa this year.