Nothing’s original, but is that bad?


Music, inspiration and madness produced this piece of artwork in one evening of hard driving coffee house action. Fascinated by the spirit of its creation and the fervor of the artist, I snapped a photo before he carted it off to his vehicle.

A few days later I clicked on a Twitter link and discovered the picture below. The original I’d seen in its living, breathing essence, seemed somehow tainted. Not as pleasing. Even though the first was created using a brush and oils, and the one below is merely a manipulated photograph.

Man on Fire
The experience reminded me of discovering a local author, and exploring her work only to be disappointed that each book copied the identical concepts, down to at least one character in each work having clever, whiskey eye color. I felt quite critical, smug even, although she had reached the NY Times Bestseller list multiple times.

How unoriginal.

After listening to my rant, my sister reminded me writers don’t pump out several books a year. If you enjoy an author you usually wait a year for the next release. You forget their idiosyncrasies. I, however, forget little and tend to start with an author’s first work and read one right after the other in an effort to determine how their writing style has evolved, and most of all I don’t want every story to include:

Female protagonist who pep-talks self out-loud, saying things like ‘get yourself together, with more attractive siblings and one developmentally delayed or socially-underdeveloped one; she lives in a small town near a large city, and drives a jeep, rides horses bareback (ever tried it? Give me a saddle, geez), is from a wealthy, influential family, with a domineering father, makes bad choices in men, then suddenly makes a good one (?!), hooks her thumb at her chest and hitches her chin, has a sickly stomach and tends to throw up a lot.

A male character who sires a child with someone other than his wife and child is hidden, speaks basely about women, thinks about sex a lot and its not pretty, nor is it love, has a sex slave who is willing to do anything to keep him, which doesn’t seem to work out so well for her and ultimately is not appreciated by him, practices a sexual deviancy: brother to sister, father-daughter, or husband caught with under-aged girl…

Another male character who is a social outcast, as a youth has a trouble with the law, and who pines over the girl for years, and somehow was either misunderstood or magically got his life together.

Somewhere I read, perhaps on Nathan Bransford blog (wish I could find it), what sells, sells. The author had found a writing niche readers enjoyed and had exploited it.

I don’t want to be a copy, or imitate. That’s so uninspiring, I still can’t quite embrace it. Perhaps that was my inspiration to be first, as in The First Carol. Someone else can be next or last, and I hope they have a grand time trying to imitate me. Sure. Let’s run with that.

If given the chance (or talent), which author would you want to imitate and why?


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