Thursday, March 11, 2010

Mirror, mirror

You know that piece of conventional wisdom? The one that says that there are only so many stories and that they have all already been told? Sometimes I feel like I'm incapable of an original thought much less an original sentence or storyline or idea.

And in my secret heart of hearts, I harbor the fear that one day, if I am able to finish the novel, it will only be to find that someone brighter, younger, more talented, and a better writer will have written my book, gotten an agent, and gotten published before me. But then maybe that’s just me.

Behler Blog has an interesting post on just this phenomenon here. Check it out and then you tell me. Have you ever faced this fear? If not, what is the biggest fear you’ve faced in your writing or publishing journey?


  1. I'm more afraid that someone will see something in my writing that they wrote as well and try to sue me! It's so hard to write original fiction. Nowadays, it has to be really wierd or way out there to stand out as different at all.

  2. I have this fear too. And if you're in the Regency business, it's true. All the stories have already been written.

    I don't think it's so bad in commercial fiction (all genre's), however maybe the well has run dry where vamps, weres, and wizards are concerned.

    How many people are there in the world now? A couple billion? If everyone wrote their own particular story I'm sure some would be the same, it can't be helped, great minds think alike and all that, but there are ways we can distinguish ourselves from each other. We just have to press on.

  3. There might be a finite number of stories, granted - like there is a finite number of musical notes - but it's the way these stories, or their individual threads, are put together that matters.

    Two or more people might have the same idea, but they are *different* people, each one of them looks at the world in his/her own way - and, most importantly, expresses those views in a unique manner.

    Themes might be similar, but the end product will not be.

    Never give up. Never surrender. ;-)

  4. I agree with Nymeria - there are limited themes, but every person will write them differently based on their own view of the world.

    The biggest fear for me is that nothing will ever happen with my fiction - even now, with a good discussion with a publisher underway (I won't say more - I don't want to jinx it!).

    What if I write and write, and nothing happens? Or if I do publish something, and no-one buys it? I need to remind myself constantly that I'm writing because I enjoy it, not for external validation.

  5. Keep your chin up, all of us have those feelings, the key is to try and bounce back from it before it destroys you!

    I worry that it will take me too long to push out this idea and it will already have been said and done... however on the flip side, on the good days I feel that my story is so unique and very well thought out that they will love it and it won't be like others. Everyone has their own unique style that's what makes stories different, not always the storyline.

  6. I agree with Nymeria as far as different perspectives/style; I'm sure this is no place for fanfiction discussions but that's a perfect example of the exact same sets of characters used by many different writers and resulting in many different products, some entertaining, some crap.

    My feelings, though, fall with Talli's without the publication aspect: "What if I write and write, and nothing happens?: At that point, I get into a discussion of diminishing returns. When everything else in your life is competing for your attention, how worthwhile is this pursuit? Unfortunately, the answer I've gotten is not going to get any words on paper anymore.

  7. I've heard more than once that the best ideas come by taking two unrelated ideas and combining them together. Then, even though both ideas have been done before, it still comes out a unique creation because these two great ideas are coming together into one. Does that make any sense?

  8. I have those fears, as well. I also fear the same thing Aubrie mentioned.

    I think that's where the voice comes into play. Of course, all the other elements have to be there as well, but unique voice is huge.

  9. Nothing new under the sun. Hopefully nobody with your voice told the story already :)!

  10. I think you will have an original story only because of the way you will tell it. I guess that's just echoing what everyone else says. But I've noticed that even when a book seems similar to something else I've read, it's told in a way that I don't even compare it (most of the time) it seems to stand alone. I have this fear too, but my main fear is like Talli's. What if I write and write and try as best I can to be published but I never am because I just plain was not good enough. Gee, that's a downer of a thought.

    We will succeed! We will all be original!

  11. My greatest fear in entering the publishing world is that, after all these years of believing I had any talent, I will suddenly learn I not only do not have said talent but I was a fool to ever believe I did. Not only will that crush me from the outside in, it will also cause me to think I've wasted a huge chunk of my life doing something that never had a chance of being worthwhile.

    I'm working on getting a thicker layer of skin to prepare myself for just this scenario.

  12. Very interesting topic, and comments! Not being a writer, I can't contribute, but had to check out the comments as this is yet another area of "the world or words" that I don't always get to see, and had never thought about. Reading writer/author blogs is so enlightening; getting a feel for the process of what happens before a book finds its way to me!

  13. Sometimes it feels like our fears as writers are infinite. I've posted some "happy thoughts" today to give us all some hope. :-)

  14. There is always going to be someone younger than you, brighter than you (that's debatable), more talented than you (debatable yet again) and a better writer (supposedly), however, the one thing that person is not - IS YOU.

    We all harbor the same fears. Not a day goes by where I don't say to myself, 'Wendy, what the hell are you doing? You're never going to get this novel published. Who would agent you?'

    It is not the story per se, but how it is told :)

    Now get writing!

  15. I have this fear. Even worse, I got a *brilliant* idea, and wrote a manuscript, knowing that the road had been travelled so many times that it was ludicrous to even bother. Now I'm editing it.

    There's always your voice, your characters, your perspective that will make a story fresh, so don't give up on your ideas!

  16. Yep. I've had that fear and also that if I ever get the book out people will decide I'm just a writing hack.

  17. I'm right there with you. Too much in my head, too many started writing projects, and not enough finalized.

    By the way, I stumbled upon your blog just now. Interesting and well written. If you don't mind, I'll tag along.

  18. We really all do worry about everything, don't we? From the fear of failure and rejection to the fear of success and being found out to be a fraud and charlatan. And it seems we all worry together.

    It is hard to write original fiction of any kind. And we all have our fears that what we write won't be good enough or that no one will read it.

    But we are all unique and have our strengths at storytelling. And we write because we need to. We sacrifice for the love of writing. And because we share our unique voice, our POVs, that makes us all successful.

    And Pat? Thank you and welcome.

  19. D'y'know~ not Harry Potter, not Rhett 'n Scarlett, not even the uber giant that is Star Wars contains an original story. The mind boggles!

    It's HOW we tell our stories~~ that's what folks are looking for. And if we can add in some firelizards or dragonriders, or grokk something, or even plant a monolith on the moon~~ THESE are the things which make us 'original', but they only enhance our story, they don't make it. How we say it--- how we present it, that's the hook. The line. The sinker.

    So when you beat at your keyboard and sweat over your monitor, remember this: if you can get me in the first paragraph, you'll have me for the whole book. But if you can get me with the whole book, I'll follow you through the whole series for the rest of my reading career!

    Just don't mess up your HOW, or I'll be long gone, sitting at my own computer screen, angsting over just HOW I'm going to do it better than YOU.

    (Maybe throw in some talking white horses; or a vampire pseudo-mobster; send a nurse back to a Highlander; or maybe even a black clad oxygen sucking bad guy who turns out to be my father...)

    ttfn, susan

  20. First, thank you for your kind well wishing this evening. :o) You are lovely.

    Second, we all have moments of feeling unoriginal. But we know that voice and style is unique to us, and we work it out, plug away.

    Have a Happy Friday!

  21. Yes, I've had this fear. Right after I decided to write a mystery about a tarot reading Berkeley professor, I found there was already a mystery series about a Berkeley tarot reader. Right after I decided to write a book that centered on a piece of art stolen by the Nazi's, I read such plots were so ubiquitous they'd become cliche. I could go on but you get the idea. Thing is, none of the books in question are like mine. Now I just write and try not to worry about it.