Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Originality is dead; long live originality!

Ideas are a funny thing. Not funny "ha ha" but funny in a very stroke the beard and go "hmm, yes, quite" kind of way. I say they're funny in a strokey beard kind of way because they've all been done before. Or thought up before. Or experienced in a fevered dream brought on by too many custard creams and mint liqueurs. The point I'm laboriously driving at is that being original, truly original, is a very hard thing to achieve.

Well, that's not entirely true I suppose. It can be quite easy to be original, putting on your socks with a shotgun loaded with not buckshot but tadpoles, yes, I think it's fairly safe to say that no one has shot themselves in the foot with frogspawn whilst getting dressed in the morning, so I guess I should amend my previous statement to "It's very hard to be original AND be a success at it". Which is fine you know, as my bufo related sartorial story has shown, being original can be overrated, and vastly so. Though, that's not to say you should ever stop trying or striving towards being different. I would argue the worst thing a person can ever do is stop pushing for change and simply accept everything as it is, that's basically a living death. But you can introduce change without being novel about it and that's fine.

It does annoy me however. The other day I had an idea for a story and I got super excited about it. I was lying in bed, doing my usual thing where I can't sleep because apparently I store all my thoughts in my pillow, when it was like a switch just flipped. The story popped into my head, the characters all fully developed, the twists, the underlying meanings, the ending , everything, it was a fully formed story. The last week I have just been running it over and over my head seeing what I can add, what I should take away, but there hasn't been much for either side. Then, just as I sat down the other day to write it, a little voice whispered in my ear "Hey, isn't that just The Wizard of Oz?" and I stopped and then I thought about it and then I did a little inward screaming. It wasn't entirely the story, it was just very similar. Then I started comparing the idea I had to Neverwhere (by Neil Gaiman), Through the Looking Glass (Lewis Carroll) and a number of other stories and of course, it was all very similar. Character finds themselves in a fantasy land, has struggles adapting, experiences heartbreak/overwhelming physical or emotional trial and prevails, becomes hero, goes home...and yes, I've read about the hero's journey, the monomyth, and it's a very interesting thing, but it just annoyed me that it...well...that it was so perfectly fitting.

I'm still going to write the story because how could I not? But I am still annoyed. Not at the monomyth, not at the idea that originality is a night unobtainable ideal or even that my story is similar to other stories. I'm annoyed at my own brain for getting so worked up about it, letting me become so excited to be writing this thing before going "hey, that character, remind you of anyone from any other story? tsk tsk, Terence." Because, and I think I've said this before, my brain is an asshole who likes to troll me, and I hate him for that! But I sure do love anthropomorphising my organs and blaming them for flaws such as my growing insanity and also my expanding waistline, damn you stomach, can't you just lay off food for even a moment! Yes, all their fault, not mine....I'm sure.

Anyway, that's enough for now...I know, I made you wait a month (WHAT?!) from my last little rant, I was busy, doing things, like unknowingly plagiarising everything in existence, which is quite a feat, let me assure you of that. Later taters. 

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