Same Old Story...

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It's been 602 days since I've had a drink and 7 days since I've worked on my novel.  Guess which one is causing me more withdrawal symptoms?

I needed the break.  After 30 days and 50,000 words, NaNoWriMo kicked my ass.  And my ability to think straight.  I was mentally exhausted and taking a hiatus is always a good thing.  That's what they say, at least.

After reaching my writing goal, I had decided to reward myself with a month's worth of reading.  It's been a long time since I've picked up a book, analog or digital.  According to Goodreads, I'm in the middle of reading SEVEN books.  SEVEN?  That is so unlike me.  I always read one at a time.  But because I'm writing so much, I think my brain has been in overdrive and I'm trying to do too many things at once.  I'm at various points in all of the books and I'm enjoying all of them equally but something's gotta give and I need to get through them all (hopefully this month).

Here's the lineup:

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King: okay, I confess I bought this out of my love for the author and the hype surrounding the book.  The Shining is one of my favorites.  And I was anxious to see little Danny Torrance all grown up.  I read Chapter One or the first 87 pages.  Yeah, that's right. Chapter One is 87 freakin' pages.  It is classic King, but in the meantime, I got sidetracked with higher priority reading. (Digital version)

Little Known Facts by Christine Sneed: my goal was to read this before attending the Carl Sandburg Awards Dinner with the Chicago Public Library where Christine was receiving an award.  When did I decide to start reading it?  The day before the awards.  So, I'm 95 pages in and while I love it, NaNo the ass-kicker kept me from giving it any more attention.  It is next on my list to finish and I highly recommend it. (Digital version but I do have an actual book autographed by the author #bragger)

Revenge Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger: it's sitting by my bed.  I'm a few chapters in.  I can totally see the same actors and actresses playing the parts.  It's even signed by the author who I met over the summer.  Too many lame excuses why I haven't finished it.  (Real paper, bound with a dust jacket)

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter: another confession with this one.  I bought it based on the hype and while it's quite good, my distracted brain overrides my interest in appearing cool enough to read something like this.  That is actually a topic of another blog for another time.  Still, it is a great story, I just need to sit down and finish the last 200 pages.  (Digital)

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah: bought this book based on the cover (another blog, another time) and the story.  It's about two women, who despite their different lives, become friends and vow to be there for each other forever.  Having grown up with similar friendships, and romanticizing about those friendships, I wanted to read this book.  It's next to Revenge, next to the bed.  Untouched for months.  Will probably have to reread.  (Came from a tree)

On Writing by Stephen King: a little over halfway through this biography/writing manual, I remember being really excited about this book until it got to the part where King tells you how to write.  Kind of fizzled a bit, I think because I have been reading so many resource books about writing, I just burned out.  (Bleep bloop download)

The Accidental Bride by Christina Skye: this is the book that made me think about writing this blog for two reasons.  When she explains the male lead has a combat injury in his shoulder I almost choked on my Good N Plenty.  MY MALE LEAD HAS THE SAME INJURY.  Then I did a little digging on Amazon and found a series of Harlequin novels about Nascar drivers.  MY FEMALE LEAD DRIVES RACE CARS.  Okay, just breathe, I thought.  I have 50 pages left in the Accidental Bride book.  It's pretty simplistic.  An easy and fast read.  (Digital)

Okay, so here it is.  I've found two books that have similar characters and themes as mine.  When I queried Amazon for Romance novels, it came up with 434,448 books.  And that's not including the paranormal/romances or the horror/romances or the young adult genres, or erotica.  So I figure there are easily a million or more books out there with some form of romance in them.  And it made me think: how can a writer be original in a genre that's "done it" to death??

Am I just rewriting stories that have already been told?

Yeah yeah I know…there are only like 6 major plots or archetypes or something and each book/movie/television show is a variation on those 6 or so basic ideas.  

So does something like a combat wound constitute as unoriginal if someone has already written about it?  If it's the female lead behind the wheel of a race car does that make the story less clichéd?  Is all this hard work I've been doing for the last year (hell, the last 20 years) all for nothing?  Is there a chance that someone will read my book and the other two books and think I've regurgitated these ideas?  Let the record show, I wrote my novel before any knowledge these other books existed.  I haven't looked yet but does that mean my other novels are in the same boat?  Are there already stories out there about reality stars, journalists, rock stars, photographers…?  

The answer is:  Of course there are!  Look at Twilight and Vampire Diaries - both books before movies and television shows.  And based on my research, the paranormal genres have the same struggle.  Lots of vampires, werewolves, shape shifters, fairies, with similar characters who have the same problems.  But people love them all.  And they read them all.  And there's an audience out there who wants to read.

So once I have gotten through DecReadMo (December Reading Month), I'll go back to my novels and make them as good as they can be.  And hopefully their plots will stand out in a world of similar stories.

For a sample of the novel I wrote in November, go to NaNoWriMo 2013.