Do you ever have this really, really great idea, and you’re like, “Oh my God, this is so original, I’m so money for thinking this up and guess what? I’m the bomb. Memo to everyone else, you suck! I rock! For all times!” And then you spend most of your RWA chapter’s retreat working on your first scene, and you write the book, and it’s okay, but it’s like, the second book you’ve ever written and so there are obvious flaws? And then your publisher wants to buy it from you when you’ve got like, four books under your belt and you’re like, “Okay, but let me clean it up first,” and by clean it up you mean “Okay, but let me rewrite this, because you will set fire to my entire backlist if you read what I was writing like six years ago? And then, when you’re like, inches away from finishing the arduous marathon of rewriting a book you’ve already written once, you read another book and it’s got some of your awesome ideas in it, and you’re like, SON OF A BITCH, NEIL GAIMAN! HOW YOU GONNA PLAY ME LIKE THAT? HUH? HUH? YOU A BITCH ASS PUNK, NEIL GAIMAN! and you throw the book against the wall and scare your cats?
That’s what happened at my house this morning. See, I’m reading Neverwhere, which is a totally awesome book. In a nutshell, the premise is that there is an entirely different London, called London Below, existing in the spaces no longer occupied by, and sometimes on top of, the city of London, but the normal London never notices it. If they do, it’s not for long. Most of the book takes place in the sewers and tube stations of London Below.
I’m currently working on a series called Lightworld/Darkworld. The premise is much different than that of Neverwhere. While there are underground cities in my series, the people in the world are fully cognizant that they are there. The underground city is referred to as The Underground by the people above, and the people below call the word upstairs The Upworld. And son of a bitch if that isn’t a term Neil Gaiman already used in Neverwhere. I loved the idea of calling it Upworld. I’ll have to think of something else. But I was enraged when I read that this morning.
Another thing that enraged me in reading was a certain device that I thought I’d so cleverly thought up on my own. In writing fight scenes for the Lightworld/Darkworld series, I’ve employed, from the main character’s POV, use of the world flash, set out in italics just like that.
Something else happens.
I get to this point in Neverwhere this morning where he’d already used THE SAME THING to get the tension and urgency across in a scene. MOTHER FUCKER!
These are small changes, but I feel like, well, damn, I didn’t think up these awesome things on my own. Or, I did, but not FIRST.
In any case, I’ll stop my irrational rage at Neil Gaiman soon enough, and hopefully nothing else will pop out at me that I’ve somehow pre-plagiarized from a book I’ve never read before.
Now, I just need to get some idea faeries who aren’t so fucking lazy that they just recycle stuff they read ten years ago. In the first draft of the first book of the Blood Ties series, I had a whole bit with the fact Cyrus’s heart was removed. He kept it in a music box that played the tune, “I Left My Heart In San Francisco”, and it was like, the key to them figuring out that he didn’t have a heart in his chest, so they couldn’t kill him (in the first draft, Cyrus was the Big Bad. There was no Soul Eater or anything, and it was just a one-off book). I was happily nearing the end when I settled down to watch a new episode of Angel and SURPRISE, they had a vampire that had removed his heart and they figured it out when Lorne sang “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” at karaoke. It was then that I realized that ideas are evil, evil little blobs that seek to infect as many people as possible, and you must watch your back at every turn, because they will trick you just for fun.
If you haven’t already, go read Neverwhere. It’s really good.