But… that was MY idea!

Posted by on May 18, 2013 in Creativity and the Writing Process, Uncategorized | 4 comments

But… that was MY idea!

I began reading The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa this morning.  Halfway into chapter 1, I felt myself sliding into a well of despair.  All I could think was, this sounds just like MY book, The Healer of Ennicy.

I’m not kidding.  The premise is the same: all of humanity is enslaved to a non-human type race.  The protagonist is a spunky young female.  There’s even a public execution at the beginning.  The only difference between Julie Kagawa’s premise and mine is genre.  In her story, the dominate races is vampires.  In mine, it is the fey.

I was sinking into a black, sulking funk rather quickly, so I put the book down and went to take a shower, half-facetiously planning my NEXT story, because I didn’t want Healer to look like it was inspired by The Immortal Rules.  Fortunately, the shower gave me time to think and helped me clear my brain, allowing me to remember something very important about creativity:

There is nothing new under the sun.

This concept is widely known.  It is found in the Bible (Ecclesiastes 1:9).  It is quoted by Ambrose Bierce.  It is the controlling idea of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 59.  And it was even spoken to me, once, by a wiser-than-I writer friend who phrased it like this:  While my ideas may have been used before, they have never been used before by me.  They have never been presented the same way that I would present them, and that is what makes them unique.

Think about it.  How many times have you read a quote on the back jacket of a book that said, in effect, “This story is just like that one told by (insert name here)”?  Or how about when you finish reading a fantastic story that made you actually want to go live with the characters but, since you know you can’t, you go to the bookstore instead, searching for a book exactly like the one you just finished reading?  For that matter, how are genres built?

The focus of creativity is not the uniqueness of an idea itself, but the uniqueness of how that idea is presented.

I grudgingly accepted this thought and, because I can go without breathing before I can go without reading, returned to Julie Kagawa’s book after my shower.  Boy, am I glad I did.  Turns out her story IS nothing like mine, despite the initial similarities.  And that gives me hope because, when people finish reading her fabulously written story, they will want to find another one like it.

Which means I better get writing.

 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/kiermacz/4515120671/”>uLightMe</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>

4 Comments

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