Hard to be Ordinary

Besides the world of acting, I believe it is just as equally difficult to create the “ordinary (perhaps nice too) guy” in the world of writing.  There is one line from the 2011 Chinese romcom movie, Love Is Not Blind (starring Wen Zhang and Bai Baihe – please note that it’s LAST NAME then FIRST NAME), that captures this sentiment quite well, “the weird is the new normal” (rough translation).  If a person lives normally in this society, then he is really NOT normal.  He has to have at least one weird habit, interest, viewpoint, etc. (better to have a couple of these to be on the safe side) in order to be qualified as “normal”.  That’s one of the aspects that makes writing an extraordinarily ordinary character difficult, despite that this ordinary person is supposed to be representative of the majority at large.

Okay, maybe I have just “went full retard” for a moment here.

Anyways, whenever I try to write an ordinary character (usually for a slice-of-life genre), I find it difficult to connect to the character despite that he or she is supposed to be very relatable.  This character would always get overshadowed by other more exciting and daring characters in the story, and so I would suddenly side-tracked and have those exciting, side characters stealing the show.  Fortunately, I realized what might be reason through practising Chinese calligraphy recently.

The Chinese word for mankind, ordinary people.

The Chinese word for mankind, ordinary people. Just tried out my Intuos Manga tablet with this.

In Chinese, ordinary people (more specifically, “mankind”) are pronounced as “fan ren” (凡人).  The “fan” in “fan ren” is a homophone to the first character of the word “fan lao” (煩惱), which means trouble, worries, and predicament.  Through this play on words, I realized that being ordinary means that life has its ups and downs.  Some of these ups and downs are imprinted deep enough that something extraordinary yet relatable would eventually spring out, even if it is in its most subtle form within all five senses.  In effect, there are moments that warrant the person to no longer be ordinary despite that he or she is just an ordinary person out of the billions out there living under the same sky.

I probably knew this from the very beginning, but that knowledge alone didn’t stop me from forgetting every now and then.


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