Not in a Novel
Routines are good. I mean they’re good for something. I don’t like to live in routines. It drives me a little batty. However, there’s a nostalgia about what boring normal used to be. The hum drum I took for granted. I feel it mostly in connection with work. Normal was racing from one conference room to the next, dodging my boss if possible because that would mean at least a twenty minute delay of the prerequisite chit chat before receiving a new task. Save that for one on one meetings, got to get to the restroom before I’m locked in another meeting around a table with people who are so passive aggressive that they say, “I’m just thinking about what’s in the best interest of everyone” and then make dissenters look like devils.If not that then being in a conversation that sounds like a loop in the Matrix. Didn’t we just figure out world peace? Are we really back to why you can’t help but it’s a great idea?
Normal was a cafeteria with so many options cooked by a chef who whipped up restaurant quality dishes even vegetarian that couldn’t be passed up. Let’s not even get started on the pastries, cakes and cookies. I’m telling the truth I did not often take advantage of the deserts but just knowing if I was overcome by the need for decadence, it was right there and I could have it with the swipe of my card.
I look back on that time and can hardly believe it existed. Along with all the other things, like trying to get on the road before the school bus traffic, battling the line up of cars at the light with a turn signal too brief to allow more than three of the eight cars in line to go through, and that only if every driver paid attention, which invariably I was for sure, the only one with foot poised on the gas, ready for forward motion at the first nanosecond of green.
I did not enjoy most of the old normal. It was tiring and relentless but my whole being was tuned into it. Auto-pilot worked at least until three in the afternoon when a booster shot of caffeine could take me to the end of the day.
Now that I’m at the end of this reflection of the old, I’m not feeling so nostalgic for what it was. It’s strange though to look through that window back in time. It’s all changed and even when the pendulum swings back to the middle again, it won’t rest in the same spot. That spot is gone, like the spot before 911. That was then, this is now.
Quick tie into writing. Only in the beginning of a novel and possibly even a non-fiction work, can normal exist in the narrative. The happy or sad hum drum of life is presented in the beginning and then very quickly must be shot to pieces. If you fall in love with your characters you may find yourself tempted to put them in normal life situations just to have them play. If you do, be ready to slash it right out again. Everything after the intro of normal has to be upheaval of one kind or another. That’s just the dynamic of a story that keeps the reader engaged. Writing ‘normal’ otherwise is just about the writer keeping himself or herself engaged. That’s not all bad except if you want to be published.
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