every now and then I get a little restless and I dream of something wild

Tonight's episode of TERMINATOR tells me that John is still stuck in the I Want a Normal Life Blues.

This is the aria of Buffy Summers, Clark Kent, Bruce Banner, Peter Parker, Anita Blake, Buffy Summers, Claire Bennett, Sam Winchester, some versions of Doctor Who, Angel, the majority of Torchwood, Dana Scully, Buffy Summers, Duncan McLeod, Hellboy, Sam Beckett, Harry Potter, Buffy Summers and most of the X-Men. The supercool Jack Harkness occasionally bitches that it would be nice to be able to die, but manages to enjoy his job nonetheless. Fortunately, most of the Fables seem to accept that they are, in the words of TVTropes.org, Cursed With Awesome.

What the hell is so great about a normal life? Most of the above have had a magic ray strike them and give them a whole episode of being "normal," and with the exception of SMALLVILLE's Clark Kent (who is so boring he makes vanilla exciting), they find out that Normal Life is dull. Normal life is cell phone bills and laundry, punching the clock and filling the tank with gas. Normal life is the doldrums of reality, where bricks meet neatly and doors are sensibly shut.

Even larks and katydids, as Shirley Jackson knew, have been known to dream.

We love superheroes because we want to be Cursed With Awesome. There are times when the constrictions of my life overwhelm me and I want to drive around until I find something dangerous. This was a much stronger tendency when I was a rash young woman, living alone in Memphis. You could find serious danger back then. Find the seediest bar and order a drink. Wander dangerous neighborhoods alone at night. Sit by the river in the shadows and see what happens.

No, I never claimed to be smart.

Fortunately, fiction is cheaper than therapy. I pour my restlessness onto the written page, and everyone is Cursed With Awesome. But rarely have my characters whined about it, I think. They regret some of the misery I've heaped on them, but only once, if memory serves, has a character bitched about her natural state. And to be fair to Samantha, she realized her vampirism had cost her true love his life, and so it's natural she'd be in a bit of a snit about that.

I think when we authors fall into the trap of Cursed With Awesome, we run the risk of alienating our normal readers. (Yes, most readers are fairly normal.) They live the lives of quiet desperation just like we do, and they read our adventures because they'd love to suddenly find out they are special. They are different. They are waiting for the right moment to appear, and that's when everything changes and they find out who they truly are. Who do you want to root for - the person who embraces what makes them special and uses it for good, or the one who sulks over a beer and says, "All I ever wanted was a normal life"?

Normal life is laundry and taxes. Hell with it. Dream of something wild.


  1. *claps* This is one of my other pet peeves about That TV Show....the lack of muscle and, well, I understand any real female strength (while I've not been watching I know "Sarah" needed her teenage son to become a killer to save her...that is not MY Sarah!) being the number one. I've been driven to write fanfic, something I've not done since I was 12 and writing Dark Shadows stories (no, really), because of this. Not that anyone is likely to see it. But...if a normal life was so great do these people really think anyone would be watching any TV show? That's the point, no one wants a normal life, but most of us are stuck with them so we want to watch or read about extraordinary ones. But, personally, I don't want to watch or read about people whining that they want normal lives. One of the keys, for me, with Buffy is that there was a, albeit slow, progression where she came to grow into what she was. Whereas they took a character who really got it at 10 years old and had him lose it.


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