No Going Back, No Going Normal

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

I talk about what I miss from before the pandemic. When discussing this with my girlfriend, she noted that trying to go back was useless. What you have to do is decide on a future and try to make it.

That resonated with me for two reasons I want to discuss.

The first is because we find it easy to get lost in nostalgia. Humans are creatures of history, and I sympathize when people remember “the way things were.” However, all of us know that the past wasn’t as great as we (or others) remember, as sure as we can’t go back. Even if we could go back to another time, we would be different people.

The second, deeper reason I connected with her statement was “build the future” is a lot better than the talk of “the new normal.”

The “new normal” is a deception. It is a deception because the “new normal” will be changing for some time to come. It is a deception because some things will be new and some will be old. It is a deception because “normal” will be different for many people – “normal” is not one size fits all.

Normal is a lie.

But deciding to build the future? I resonate with that because it means I choose – and making a choice means asking what you want? A lot like Agile (hey, you knew I’d bring it up), you have to ask what’s valuable and worth your time.

I don’t know precisely the future I want. I have most of the picture, but the pandemic has changed some things. I do know it won’t be “normal.”

But it’ll be mine.

Steven Savage

Way With Worlds: Normal

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(Way With Worlds Runs at Seventh Sanctum, Muse Hack, and Ongoing Worlds)

So we discussed the odds of things in your world, of knowing how likely things were. Now let’s talk the thing you’re writing the most, the odds you know but don’t realize you know, and the most important part of your world and he tales in it.

What’s normal.

In fact, I’m going to tell you that what your stories are about, your world everything about them, is about what’s normal. No matter how freaky your character, strange your plot, normal is what’s important.

And you need to know what’s Normal in your world.

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Abnormal Strength

You're not normal.

OK, technically none of us are normal.  Normal is a statistical concept, and if you meet anyone who is actually "normal" then they're pretty abnormal.  Normal is for math and stats, averages and estimates.  It's not for people because we're usually all not normal.

In fact, if you think of it, abnormality is great.  Abnormally strong, abnormally smart, abnormally creative – those are powers, abilities, gifts we can use.  You're probably better at something than a lot of other people you know, and you feel pretty good about that.

If you're a geek, and you're reading this so you probably are, I bet you have a lot of abnormalities.

Good.  Because they're your strength.

I want you to look at what makes you different, odd, weird, statistically out there and ask yourself what is a strength or can be.  Your ability to draw well is abnormal.  Your ability to focus obsessively on cosplay is abnormal.  Your ability to memorize sports statistics better than most people is abnormal.

All of this abnormality is, in many cases, being pretty damn good at something or damn dedicated to something – or both.  It's a strength, a power.

So revel in your abnormality.  Identify it and celebrate it. Accept it and enjoy it.

Then?  Figure out how to use it in your career.  Because what sets you apart is what you can build on to make a good, productive, and satisfying career.

Steven Savage