I have a belief that there are no original ideas left. This is my inherent suffering as a writer.
Maybe I should write a novel about a slave who tries to rebel and escape but is wounded by…nah, that’s “Roots”.
Perhaps, my literary prowess can take me on a magically journey. A kid, grows up orphaned. Raise by his relatives buts discovers he is speci…Hello “Harry Potter”.
A young woman meets rich man with a kinky fetish who.. that’s “Fifty Shades of Grey” …and my Daddy would return me to the earth.
I even tried to stop reading for a while. I thought that by reading I was shoving their awesome stories into my head and by some new medical miracle pushing out my original thoughts. But my reading strike didn’t work. I’d get through writing a few chapters of a new story that had me excited…but then I’d think “This is too good. Someone MUST have written this already.” Pencils down. Test over.
So, what do I do when I want to know if my plight is unique to me? I Google it to see what other people are thinking about what I’m thinking. Sly little minx aren’t I? To no ones surprise there many people who feel the exact same way that I do. That all the great American novels are already on bookshelves. On high school reading lists. In people’s hearts and minds. There’s no need to waste more paper.
But I enjoy wasting paper. Writing my words and having other people react to them and connect. What do I do with this feeling that was put here? I’ve written fan fiction since I was a child. Crouching low in my desk during Social Studies. Instead of taking notes, I was writing the next great saga about B2K. My friends taking notes and letting me peak at them for the answer if I got called on by the teacher. These stories were real to me. Until I got older and writing couldn’t just be fun anymore. It had to provoke change. It had to entertain. Most of all it had to make money.
For me that’s when the pressure set in. I need to be unique. I need to unravel a plot line that will have people taking extra therapy sessions to work through all the buried issues in their lives that MY BOOK unearthed. I was going to be THAT DEEP y’all. And I mean, if i’m reaching for that, no wonder my engine conked out under the pressure. No wonder I stalled.
But lately, I’ve done my share of complaining, Prayer, and Googling (the millennial Trinity. Amen.) I’m chasing the wrong thing. I’m chasing uniqueness. Something that I don’t have to chase because I already am. What I actually am looking for is authenticity. See, even great stories like Harry Potter and Star Wars have the same plot line. Think about it. It’s true. Orphaned kid, raised by relatives, discovers he’s the second coming of badassness and vows to avenge his parents deaths. Yep, thank you Google (and Melissa Donovan).
Aren’t these stories still epic? It’s because they are rooted in an authentic feeling, a heartbeat that we can all sync with until the last scene in those stories. The anger. The confusion. Hurt. Happiness. It all flows through. That’s why we soak it up. That’s why it is celebrated. Because it’s real and authentic. Human. It’s the human experience and it was written well before I came into existence so I can’t hope to rewrite it any better. What I can hope to do is keep connecting with the source and keeping connecting with others. This will keep feeding the well. There will be no need to search for it because it will already be full and waiting.
I’m not going to worry if the next words I write are unique.
Whatever I write will be unique because I am but it will be authentic because of who we all are.
Jeremiah 1:5 CEB