I write. Therefore I am not 100% original. I’m probably not even 15% original, but who’s measuring? And I’m cool with that. I embrace my non-originality because it’s the nature of storytelling.
Well, now I embrace it. Cut to scene with the mister, an undisclosed number of months ago:
Spousal Unit (tearing gaze from Sports Center): What, my sweet?
Me (glowering at undeserving MacBook): This writer got a book deal! She’s writing a YA paranormal about dead people! I’m writing about dead people!
Spousal Unit: And that’s a bad thing?
Me: Well, of course it is! This person has an agent, an editor....HOW WILL I EVER FINISH MY BOOK NOW? WHAT’S THE POINT?
(Spousal Unit waits as tirade dissolves into unpleasant animal-like grunts)
Spousal Unit: I don’t see the problem. How many...uh, vampire books are out there?
Spousal Unit: I bet you own ten of them yourself.
Closer to twenty, but who’s counting...oh, I get it. Proving once again that he’s got more up top than just a pretty face, my husband is ready and reasonable enough to help me combat an episode of THE AM I CRAZIES. Those awful, soul-eating moments of doubt that even published authors get. Even NB gets.
Originality. Pshaw. Who needs it? Give me something juicy to read. It doesn’t have to be decidedly different. Just different ENOUGH.
It’s the gorgeous thing about writing. We storytellers are re-inventors of things WE CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF. So many of us write because we’re creating the stories we’d love to read ourselves. Endings, epilogues, companion pieces to stuff we couldn’t get out of our heads. There’s a reason why there’s fan fiction and fan forums and Twitter hashtags and mile-long threads about LOST (hee-hee). To me, it’s less about popularity and trends and more about STORIES THAT RESONATE. Sure, a blockbuster novel might not be to your particular taste, but all those readers (and non-readers for that matter) don’t go and spend hard-won cash on mere words no matter how well arranged they are.
It’s the feeling behind them. That indescribable story essence that keeps you up into the wee hours, gets you through the next day, or prompts a cool conversation with a person on the subway holding the exact same book. So what if it’s a trend? It’s also a human connection.
(By the way, that’s my only argument against the e-reader age. I LOVE peeking at what perfect strangers are reading. Don’t lie, you do it too. Potential for much curtailing of this pastime, sigh.)
Besides my obsession with the dead, I’ve also got a thing for Greek mythology. I know, who doesn’t, right? It’s the “goes-with-everything” toga of the storytelling world. (Recent evidence: Rick Riordan’s super-popular MG series PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS, the CLASH OF THE TITANS remake). Perusing the other guest blog contributors, I stumbled upon the lovely Brodi Ashton’s post entitled “When You Discover Your Agent’s Just Not That Into You” which had me on the floor, it was so grand. Then I clicked on her blog and discovered she just sold a trilogy inspired by the same Greek myth I pull from in my own book.
Awesome, actually. Sure, we might start with the same bare-bones archetype, but we get to flesh it out and dress it up and style it in a way that would have Tim Gunn beaming. We get to MAKE IT WORK for us. Brodi Ashton’s books are gonna be great, I can tell that just by her voice. I’ll be busting at the seams for my own copy of the first one. I emailed her to tell her that, and to tell her about my own toga-ripper. How it will no doubt be different from her toga-ripper but that’s the exciting thing. Both have the right to exist. She agreed. She even asked about where I was at in the process, which had me beaming.
Ah, sweet validation. Enough to keep me writing till I’m one page closer to finishing my story. That kind of thing’s nothing to sneeze at, because it’s an advantage we have over writers of the not so distant past. #more human connection.
How have you been affected by pressure to be original in your writing?
P.S. My husband does not really call me “my sweet”, in case you were swooning over that moment. But it makes good fiction, eh?
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