All my life people have considered me crazy. As a kid it was because I thought differently than others. Which is to say I had bad thoughts. Insane thoughts. Thoughts that put me in the hospital for evaluation. As an adult I ended up wandering from place to place living life through a book of lies in order to fit in to my surroundings. Then I quit drinking and suddenly everything was ok. Except, the crazy ideas didn’t disappear. They just shifted. Decades later, now I stand back and wonder who the crazy ones really are. Because somehow it’s normal to sell our most valuable resource in life, our time, in order to survive in the world – removing ourselves from the people we love in order to do it. And then we teach our kids that this is how it’s done and that they need to buck up, get in line, and be prepared to follow in our footsteps.

But what if some of us aren’t meant to ‘be normal?’ What if we’re not driven by ego? What if we don’t want to have affairs and hit the bottle just to add some excitement to our mundane, routine, normal lives? What if we don’t feel right getting in line with everyone else on the moving sidewalk into Normaltown every day? We’re given drugs to help us cope, that’s what. Because sometimes when you’re crazy, you have these ideas that things could be different. Should be different. The drugs help soften these renegade internal voices so that the safe thinking of normal society can take precedence.

I don’t know if I can ever be normal, or whether that’s even something worth striving for. I was close to normal once – right after I got sober. I had just survived eight years of chaos and so being ‘normal’ was such a beautiful change of pace that I reveled in it. Flourished, even. But after 22 years, I don’t know how much longer I can keep going like this. There’s nothing normal about waking up every day wondering what you’re doing in life. There’s no peace in that. There’s only peace in acceptance. And when you don’t think like everyone else, there’s no place to go with your thoughts. You have to stuff them into a sack to preserve the illusion of normal. Because the better you are at doing that, the more you fit in. The road to Normaltown is paved with conformity.

In a next couple of months I’ll be rolling out my first book, Minor King. Reading it might help explain some of these things. I know writing it helped me deal with some of these issues. If only temporarily. Still, it will be interesting to see whether anyone will look past the fact that it’s a man’s first novel to see the core ideas. Because, they’re definitely not normal.



Jim Mitchem

How I Wrote A Novel
Father's Day

Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.