Thursday, December 17, 2009
Passing for Normal
This is in a lot of ways the flip side of Sarah's dilemma - how you can be writer-weird and still pass for normal enough that you don't catch hell. Even though writers are kinda-sorta-maybe supposed to be a bit eccentric, there are limits, and then within the writing community there are separate standards of 'normal' that get enforced.
I could go into the biological and social reasons for it, but I'll leave that for the biologists among us. Suffice to say that every group of people quickly evolves its own norms and the most influential members of it usually end up enforcing them.
So... how do you pass? Me, I tend to fade into the background. Nothing to see here, move along. It's a useful trait at conventions (it's amazing what you hear when people don't realize you're there), but not when you actually need to be noticed. For that I have what could be called "Con Kate" who I think may be related to "Evil Panel Sarah". It's a kind of reverse fade, where you hide the bits you don't want seen by drawing attention to them in an exaggerated way, preferably one that fits an existing stereotype. I aim for "Crass, crude Australian" for the US audience - Crocodile Dundee-esque ramped up to the max, usually in stark contrast to the appearance, which for cons is "elegant". The sweet, sweet sound of brains exploding tells me when I've got it right.
The next step is to lose about half my body weight and invest in the kind of clothing that makes jaws hit the floor and women go interesting shades of green - but that one's going to happen about the same time Hell moves to the South Pole.
Does anyone else feel they have to pretend to be normal to pass muster? One of the joys of the Internet is being able to find people who are enough like us we no longer feel like we're complete and utter lunatics - but maybe I'm just kidding myself and I really am so far around the bend that I've doubled back on myself and gone quantum in some bizarrely Pratchettian fashion.
Any victi... er... volunteers, feel free to share your thoughts. Or just tell me I'm barking mad.