I just finished reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman, which is a fantastic book, by the way. I haven’t had time yet to read the online journals he kept, but I did discover something from an outside source that in a tiny way brightened my day. Apparently his original idea for the book involved a different god for each day of the week. He’d put some research and effort into it before he had to scrap it because someone else had already written a book with that exact concept. Gaiman shelved the idea and came up with what became the final version of American Gods. I don’t remember where I read this, so I can’t verify the truth of it, but we’ll say it’s true.
Why does this story make me smile? Do I take delight in the minor inconveniencing of the Sandman’s creator? No, it’s because now I don’t feel so bad. Last fall when I was putting together my NaNo project, I shared the idea, which I thought was just so original and so awesome, with a friend. She promptly told this was just like something she’d seen two years ago. More on that story here. That’s something that’s happened a lot to me over the years. At least now, with the internet, it’s easier to discover early if someone stole your idea, then traveled back in time two or three or fifty years to publish it themselves (that’s what happens, right?).
Knowing that kind of thing happens even to established writers takes some of the sting away when I discover the MS I’ve been slaving over for weeks is actually sitting down the street at the library in a slightly altered form. So no offense, Neil (I call him Neil), but you made feel a little better.