Yesterday afternoon, I did a keyword search on Amazon to find the title of a novel* I wanted to recommend to my book club. In the otherwise-innocent process, I discovered the tragic truth that someone has already written, published, and become successful with an idea I’ve recently pursued as a potential novel. Not every element is mirrored, but many of the building blocks are there, and I’m not sure how I feel about that.
On one hand, I know my idea came from a place of pure white light, because the idea in-question is the epiphany-like amalgamation of two ideas I blogged about last fall. This idea is the 5,000+ words which my students workshopped. This was the first idea that popped into my head which felt like a long narrative (and with potential to boot!) in quite some time. Then I find out someone has already done it. What’s a boy to do?
Go write, young man.
I doubt I’ll read the similarly-themed novel I stumbled across today, nor attempt much more research in learning what makes it tick (or not), until I finish my own manuscript. Instead, I’ll write my story and let unintentional similarity remain just that, while staying true to the kind of story I want to write. There’s the option of putting it away, chalking up the coincidence to bad luck and moving on to something new. But that option doesn’t acknowledge the work I’ve put into this project already, in fact it negates it. If anything, I’m pushed to write my story even more, knowing with even greater certainty it’s the sort of story that can potentially find a publisher.
* The novel in question is YA treat Crank written by poet-turned-prose writer Ellen Hopkins, who crafts text formatting to tell more than one story through enjambment, stanza breaks, and other ways of breaking up sentences, paragraphs, and ideas.
[tags]story similarities, unintentional similarity, ellen hopkins[/tags]