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Burning Bunnies

June 12, 2008

I don’t know if this is a sage piece of advice or not, but it certainly applies to me.  The old adage, “Don’t go to bed angry,” needs an update.  How about: don’t write while angry.  All too frequently I’ll read over things written in a snit, and wonder at how I could have felt so melodramatic at the time.  There’s a reason ’emo’ isn’t a compliment.

Took the beginning of my screenplay to pieces today.  Felt frustrating and good at the same time.  Cathartic, I  suppose.  I was sticking too closely to the text, there wasn’t room to breathe.  This version isn’t quite right, but it’s closer.  It still feels like something’s off, but I can’t put my finger on it…

I’d like to take a moment and express how annoyed I am with the price of books.  Gas prices are atrocious, too, but that’s to be expected.  I took a trip to a few bookstores today, and I cannot afford to read anymore.  The costly books are the reference ones, your Writer’s Markets, your how-to screenplay books – the ones you don’t find in the local library.  There were several that looked interesting and/or necessary, but I completely lack the funds.  My Writer’s Market is horrendously out of date, however, so there’s no way around that.

I am currently enjoying the Hollows series by Kim Harrison, featuring bounty hunter and witch Rachel Morgan.  What’s particularly fascinating for me is that I had a nearly identical idea a few years ago without ever having heard of this woman or read one of her books.  It’s spooky.  Both are set in a sort of Alternate Reality where vampires, werewolves, ghosts, witches, and the like have come out of hiding after a specific Earth altering event and freely mingle with humans.  The similarities are uncanny.  My female P.I.’s last name was Morgan at one point, too.

Now, normally that sort of thing doesn’t happen.  Yes, you hear stories about books or movies with similar premises getting made, but usually the stories themselves are different because the writers are different.

This is just weird.  My idea, not nearly as well developed as hers, will never see the light of day now (pun intended).  Even if I wanted to take it in another direction, I won’t be able to divorce my ideas from her work.  Sometimes, you just have to accept that someone beat you to the punch.  It’s like those people who claim to have thought of the plastic cup-holder first – that may be true, but someone else got the patent.

On the other hand…

On my last fiction submission for class (the first chapter of my novel about a modernized Russian folktale) one of my classmates warned me that someone had already drawn a connection between Rasputin and Baba Yaga, and then made it sound as if it was all right if I did it too, just so long as I understood it had already been done.  

I wanted to say, ‘In writing, everyone’s already done everything.  What matters is how you tell the story, not what the story is.’  I didn’t, because I like to think I’m a little more tactful than that, but truthfully I was annoyed.  So someone had written about a connection between Rasputin and Baba Yaga.  I highly doubt they did it my way, and that’s not going to interrupt that particular project.  Don’t let a person crush your plans by telling you that your idea has been done before, but if someone does mention it, you might want to check to make sure.  

I’m enjoying the books though, they’re a lot of fun and wonderfully detailed, with good characters and a sense of humor.  Oh, Jenks.  Some of the characters are a little too archetypal, but that’s what happens in a world of black and white.

Half the human population in her novels getting wiped out by a mutant tomato virus puts this whole salmonella outbreak in a new perspective…


Quote of the Day:

“Burning bunnies are how I think of ideas.  Soft cuddly ideas that seem so innocent and sweet.  I take them in and feed them carrots.  I pet them and talk to them.  They look so cute sitting on my desk.  Until they flame up and start procreating into more ideas, which I frantically chase about my office until I corral them with pen and ink, jam them in a box, and ship them off to New York.  I don’t know what New York does with them, but they end up proliferating even more until there is no choice but to bind them in paper and send them everywhere to get rid of them.  Unsuspecting people see them sitting on the shelf.  They look so sweet and innocent, and they’re taken home where, if they’re lucky, they’re fed carrots.  If luck stays with them, even more ideas are born.  And that’s pretty cool.” – Kim Harrison, author Dead Witch Walking

Link of the Day: Good Reads – a safe haven for readers where it was once suggested I was a librarian.  

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