Saturday, November 14, 2009

Great Minds ...?

I imagine everyone who's done any writing for any length of time will have experienced this ...

I've had a short story on my mind for well over a year - I had intended to pitch it for Voices, but it fell foul of the fact that all stories for that particular book had to be confined to a single hotel room. This idea needed the characters to spend some time outside of it, so the story was shelved and forgotten.

A couple of months ago I find it again, dust it off and decide to write the thing. It's a bit limp in places, but generally holds together reasonably well, so I shoot it off to my trusty beta-readers. It divides opinion. Some think it's in need of major surgery, others that a minor tweak will do it. And with the readers' votes exactly even, I decided to set it aside again, come at it with a fresh outlook and see what happens.

Fast forward to a conversation with a friend last week. He's talking about a Famous Writer he likes, one I myself am not that keen on, regardless of his stature in the industry. Suddenly my friend is telling me all about this story Famous Writer wrote ... and I sit there, slack-jawed, as I listen to him recount what could, but for some minor changes, be the very story I wrote some weeks earlier. Had I pressed on with my tale and submitted it to anyone ... well the word 'plagiarism' springs to mind.

Of course, this kind of thing does happen - as someone once said, there are no original stories. But to find that mine bore such close resemblance to something written many moons ago by Famous Writer ... I don't know whether to be irritated at the wasted effort or pleased that I'm obviously thinking along the same lines as a successful scribe.

Actually, the fact that I don't much like Famous Writer swings it for me ...

Anyway, NaNoWriMo continues apace.

Fourteen days into the 30 and I'm a shade over the minimum word count. The plot's creaky and the characterisation's wobbling like a trampolining jellyfish but that's rather the point, isn't it - to weed out these problems along the way?

Tomorrow then it's foot to the floor for 25,000 words.

The halfway mark ...


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