What is normal?


“The Journals of Thaddeaus Shockpocket – ALBION 77”

To blog or not to blog? My publisher says that it is imperative to blog. Much like the ‘publish or perish’ maxim in the academic world, the modern world of the author apparently requires a blog in order to maximize exposure. I wonder what it is that makes blogs so important or, more to the point, so popular in our current culture. Well, blogs that focus on specific topics like the latest cooking trends are a great source of practical information such as new recipes and ways to prepare dishes that otherwise are simply old and tired. Movie review blogs steer me to pictures that suit my particular interests and book review blogs do similar for my reading selections.

But what about all those other blogs? Those that simply chronicle someone’s activities or their random thoughts on arbitrary topics with no rhyme or reason as to why they chose that subject matter for the day. Why are they so popular? Is it because we are voyeuristic by nature and get some degree of pleasure by sitting at a screen and reading of another person’s activities and thoughts without actually having to interact with them? Or is it that we take comfort in hearing of other people’s misadventures and reading the sordid details of their dysfunctional families and strange proclivities that make our own dysfunctional families and insane thoughts seem almost normal by comparison.

Yes, that must be it. Often are days when I think the other members of my family are certifiably crazy, my own behavior a tich off kilter, and my life a comedy of errors, but then I read blogs and take comfort in the knowledge that my world, while not exactly perfect, is certainly more normal than that of others.

Then again, what is normal? One dictionary defines it as, ‘conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal’.  Not abnormal? And what is abnormal defined as? Not normal. Okay, that cinches it. Normal does not mean anything. It is a construct to make people feel a part of a group. A way of identifying and segregating the ‘others’. Behave as we say and you will be deemed normal. Deviate from our standards and you are abnormal. It is really just part of a clan mentality. We find comfort in grouping with others that hold the same interests. Those within a group of similar types are, by definition, normal. But to outsiders, they are probably abnormal.

Wow, that turned into a bit of a rant. Maybe this blogging thing is not so difficult after all. And, believe it or not, a rant on normalcy ties rather nicely into my adventure book series The Journals of Thaddeaus Shockpocket. Because, while the popular series of humorous stories is, on the surface, about the misadventures of a turn-of-the-century English explorer and his family, astute readers have identified that this is a family that is certainly not ‘normal’ within their society. Each has their own personality quirks and challenges but, in spite of these, the Shockpocket’s not only survive, but thrive as they make great discoveries and create wondrous inventions to make the world better.

Recently, Leslie Orton, publisher and editor of The Aether Chronicle noted in her review of The Journal of Thaddeaus Shockpocket Book 2 – Victoria, that the Shockpockets refuse to be defined by others rules and use their unique talents and approach to the world to persevere and grow as a family. As a follow up to the review, Leslie interviewed me to look a bit more into the subtext of The Journals and the positive message about being unique in the world. In my next blog, I will reprint that interview.