Didn’t think I’d have a topic to write about today, but unfortunately one presented itself last night.
I have my story all set for NaNo. I’ve taken extensive notes; I’ve outlined the plot. I even have a query pitch all ready for it. I’ve been almost giddy for November to come so I could tear into this project. I showed the pitch to a friend at work to drum up moral support for the undertaking. I waited impatiently for her to finish as she meticulously and lovingly devoured each word. I kind of suspected she’d like it, but you never know. Finally she finished it with what I swear was a gasp of delight (okay, maybe not).
“What do you think?” I asked.
“You really need to write this; it is so good.” Kind of what I thought she’d say, not that I’m cocky, but because my “inner circle” tends to like anything I write, even if it’s crap. But before I could gush about the details, she added:
“In fact, I saw something just like this.”
Now, I’m no stranger to investing my time in ideas that have already been done. One of my first projects was a retelling of The Wizard of Oz from the point of view of the Wicked Witch (yeah, didn’t finish that one). I came up with a more intelligent version of Little Nicky about a month before I saw the trailer for the Adam Sandler version. The list goes on. It was so bad I could almost conjure a book I wanted to read or movie I wanted see simply by independently coming up with the idea myself.
But that was then. I wasn’t a writer, not really. Yeah, I had the mountain of writing books, the perfectly sharpened no. 2’s, and the meticulously cluttered writing space. But I hadn’t written anything, not really. I was a dreamer, a wannabe. I wasn’t ready then.
This is now. I’ve done it, whatever else happens or doesn’t happen, I’ve finished a novel. The more I delve into the business and the more I despair of my little-manuscript-that-could disappearing forever under the sea of competition and form rejections, the more confidence I gain in my actual abilities. I’m a writer, damn it. Whether or not I ever make a dime off it.
Which is why I took it so hard when I found out my “fresh take” on the zombie genre was about two years old. As soon as she told me, I hit Wikipedia and found the offending item, a cable anthology show. I read the article, plot spoilers and all, and yes, it was pretty much my idea. The crappy part is that I’d never heard of this show, much less seen it, so I couldn’t have stolen anything, even subconsciously. My idea was original, it was just someone’s else’s original idea first.
After the initial blow wore off, I realized it wasn’t all that bad. The “zombie twist” was the entire plot of this episode, it’s only a small but important part of my book. Also, it’s a different medium, television, and a different target audience; I see the book as (mature) Young Adult. Anyway, I’m going to write it. It’s either that or line edit The Wind Maiden again, and I’d rather shove a perfectly sharpened no. 2 in my eye. I think everybody knows there are very few new ideas out there. It just stings when you think you caught one and reality snatches it from your grasp.