Lack of Originality

Recently I was ranting about my desire to burn down the library after coming across a book with very similar premise to my current work in process.  I had thought my idea was so original and different!  Yet here it was, taunting and pointing at me from the bookshelf!

“I’m here first,” it sang at me snidely.  And I did not respond diplomatically.  I may have startled the nearby patrons with my cranky retort.

Of course the book wasn’t exactly the same idea.  Just a similar concept….sigh…but still…

I raged to my writing group, who put their virtual arms around me in comfort.  They told me to just make it mine, do it better than other author had, or that by the time mine was ready for release the other would be ages old and forgotten, if it was even noticed in the first place.  But I was still cranky and dismayed.  I sort of wanted to set fire to something.

However my outlook changed a bit today. I was listening to the TED Radio episode Where Do Good Ideas Come From– and it made me feel TONS better.  Writer Steven Johnson essentially said that there is no such thing as an original idea anymore.  That innovation comes from taking ideas and repurposing them to make them your own.  And that does seem true.  It goes along with the idea that there are really essentially only seven different story plots.

So when my character comes into a specific birthright on a specific birthday and I come across a novel where nearly the same thing is happening to the character in that book, instead of getting upset I will understand that characters everywhere for years and years have had strange things happening on birthdays.  The world is not out to get me.

Therefore I will embrace that fact that there probably are no truly original story lines out there anymore (notice smut novels featuring dinosaur partners as proof that everything under the sun has been done) and I will continue blindly plugging away because it makes me happy.  And if someone says, “Hey, you’re book is like this other book I read.” I’ll decide to take it as a compliment and move on.  I think Stephen Fry said it best.  “An Original Idea.  That can’t be too hard.  The library must be full of them.”



For Want of Time

If you read yesterday’s post you’ll see that I started the10 Day Do Over challenge.  For my challenge I chose to learn more about the art of writing.  Something I’ve been meaning to do and something I wish I had spent more time doing in college.

This morning I grabbed the Do Over workbook and turned the page.. to discover that I hadn’t finished Day 1.  Apparently there were some questions I was supposed to answer that I didn’t.  So here they are.

1. What’s an activity you love doing that you have stopped for some reason?

I put down Acting/Theater.  Something I did through HS and a little in college, but put aside to be “practical” and because I didn’t have time with all the other stuff I was doing.  I haven’t done anything theatrical since my college interpretive reading course.  I miss it. A lot.  I have a FB friend that does Theater and every time he posts something I am so envious.  There is NOTHING like opening night.  That feeling, the excitement.  It is a serious high.  I miss it!

passing-time-2-51854c91a8333_hiresQuestion 2 tied into question 1 for me.  It asked -Have you ever been jealous when you’ve seen someone else doing something?  What was the activity they were doing that you wished you were?

Clearly I just spoke of being envious of a friend in the theater.  But that didn’t end up being what I wrote down.  What I wrote is that I was jealous of the people who seemed to have time.  Time to do anything.  Sitting and having a cup of coffee, getting groceries, writing at the library, anything.  I am jealous of people who have time.  I don’t think I’m alone, in fact I just saw a FB post today from a mom ranting about someone who seemed to have the time to get to the gym in time to get a good parking spot before a class in a very leisurely fashion.  She was lamenting that she couldn’t get in because she got there two minutes late.  But I saw the pain of having not enough time.  And really, I think her post was about time because being turned away from that workout when you aren’t able to make it to many, hurts.  To me it is Time that is the enemy and I completely understood that want need for more time to do what you’d like to do rather than having most of your time taken up with things that you have to do.  Or rather, I understood the part of her message that spoke to me.  I was feeling it.

Question 3. What’s something you’ve always wanted to try?  I said Yoga.  Again, something I haven’t really done because of time. When you don’t have a lot of time, you get very possessive of what time you do have and what you do with it.  Yoga is something I’d like to try, but if I’m working out with my limited time, it’ll be running or the boot camp class with the above mentioned FB friend.  Sadly, I have only gone running a handful of times since taking my new job.  Because, all in all, I am not the master of my own time.  Sure, there may be Free Time skulking around in a dirty back alley somewhere waiting for me to walk by and notice it.  But if I do find it, before I can dig out my $20 for a quickie, I am bombarded by everything else I wouldn’t be doing while having some fun with Free Time.  So really, is free time really free?  You go down that Free Time road and then you find yourself at the free clinic with a strange rash and a tattoo of a monkey on your ass.  Regrets.  Guilt.  Mommy guilt.  Guilt guilt guilt.  And now I’m downward spiraling into the whole Work vs Family vs Self Care balancing act.  I’m not going there.  I’m just saying Time is an elusive whore these days and even if I do have a twenty dollar bill to toss at it, I’ll be paying for it later.

Day 2

On day two, you find a person.  A person that will be your accountability buddy for the next ten days.  Someone to check in with each day.  I’m picking my husband since he is the one that introduced me to this.  And he’s cute.  And he’s nearby so that helps.

It then asked me who the smartest person I know is.  That was a real thought stopper.  I thought about saying my brother, but he’s from a differing political party than I so he doesn’t count.  HA HA!  Just kidding.  I actually put down a few people’s names. But I have no idea how to determine how smart a person is, especially since there are different kinds of smarts.  I feel like I’m people smart, but can’t do math to save my life.  Other’s can ace a calculous test but will back out of their driveway, across the street and into a ditch.  True story.  I know that person.  So I threw down a few names and wrote “SHRUG”.

Finally it asks for a list of people you’d put on your board of directors for a fake company.  That was much easier in my opinion and I finished that up quickly.  I stacked it with people who are smart, honest with a mix of sugar coaters and blunt speakers.  Tell me the truth, I’ll cry, a sugar coater will come around and help me feel better about it and then I’ll watch them fight to the death.  Not really, no. I’d look away.  But seriously.  It’s like with picking Beta Readers.  My husband is always my first reader because he is mostly blind when it comes to me.  He thinks I’m amazingly talented, awesome, beautiful and a whole long list of other complimentary adjectives.  I just think he’s crazy.  So he pumps me up.  Then I pass it along to a few friends that read a lot and will give honest feedback, but tend to be gentle and love me so they are nice.  That helps me polish and fix things before I send it to my friends and acquaintances that write, read and will offer hard criticism.  I need all those people.

Pretend there is a nice transition sentence here… birds.. flowers.. rainbows. BAM!

After I finished Day Two of the Do Over I decided I needed to actually do something toward my chosen Do Over.  So I grabbed my book and spent time cringing through the tales of Stephen King getting his ears drained as a 6 year old…And then the screaming from the basement became too much and I had to stop.  I’ll leave that up to your imagination.

See ya tomorrow!