Saturday, 15 June 2013

I know who is to blame

I've finally figured it out.

I know exactly who is to blame.

Let me clarify that. Being creative in this day and age is not easy. There's so much that's already been done. It's really difficult to come up with something completely fresh and new.

I think it's like that in a lot of different areas. Music for instance. When I listen to new songs, I'm always thinking "It sounds just like this" or "It sounds just like that". There are so many great songs that have already been written that writing new ones just gets harder and harder.

It's just the same with stories. How do you come up with an idea for a story that's fresh and new when so many stories have already been written? I'm sure that whatever I write, there's always going to be someone who has the same reactions to my stories as I've described above to new songs. It seems to me that with each subsequent generation, as more stories continue to be written, it just gets harder and harder to come up with new ones.

Sometimes it used to really get me down. I'd get so frustrated. It just didn't seem fair that I was living in an age where so many things had already been done, and so many stories had already been written.

And that's when I realised exactly whose fault it was.

It's time's fault. I think that's clear. Thanks to time, I'm forced to be living in a later period than all those other writers who got in before me. If time was a little more flexible, maybe I could sneak back and get my stories out first. But no, time has to be strict and linear and one way only, leaving me stuck right where I am.

Of course, recognising a problem is one thing. Dealing with it is another. What can I do against this unfair behaviour by time? For a while I thought about maybe suing time - taking it to court for infringing my freedom of expression. But I had a funny feeling I wouldn't get far with that one. I considered the options of relocating to a different universe where the laws of time are a bit less rigid, but I just couldn't face the stress of packing and moving again.

So I guess I'm stuck with the situation as is. There's nothing I can do against the random unfairness of time. I'll just keep badgering away, hoping against hope that I can come up with that truly original idea.

And if anybody out there should develop a time machine, please drop me a line. 


  1. And yet people keep coming up with new takes on things. What’s sad is that others insist on churning out clones of what’s gone before. Too many books are being written. Just because we can doesn’t mean we should. Then again just because something’s been said before doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be said again, perhaps in a louder voice because obviously no one was listening in the first place. I remember when Edwin Starr wrote ‘War’ although it’s the Bruce Springsteen version that sticks in my mind. You know the one: “War, huh, yeah / What is it good for? / Absolutely nothing / Uh-huh.” And yet we still have wars. Or when Rodney King pleaded, “Can we all get along?” (he’s often misquoted) and get we’re clearly not getting along. Words can and do make differences and I ask myself every time I write something if it has the capacity to make a difference, to change someone’ life. The problem you and I have is that we usually don’t know we’ve made a difference. It’s not just the case for writers—most of the time none of us know what effect we’ve had on other people’s lives—but I suspect that writers feel it more than most because what we do is all about communication. Not entertainment. Entertainment is—or at least in my opinion—should be a by-product of the writing process and any writer who sets out purely to entertain people isn’t aiming high enough. What worries me is how books are changing. I think of a book like The Little Prince for example and I’ve no doubt it has made a difference to the lives of a great many people. My wife still has an old battered copy that’s she’s carted around for fifty-odd years but what about my copy of Doodling? It’s sitting on the hard drive of this laptop and there’s a backup on my tablet and when my daughter comes along eventually to clear out my stuff will she cherish my e-books or simply format the disk? This is another reason why new books need to be written even if they say old things because every new generation has to learn everything from scratch and they need it in a format (in the broadest sense of the word) they can cope with.

    1. Hi Jim,

      Thanks again for your comment. I keep telling myself that one day I'll get my books into print - I just have to actually do it.

  2. It's true that it's hard to get an original idea these days. The thing is, is that the most important thing? I think not.

    If you give five different authors the same typical plot (Man collects the seven shards of gubbins in order to defeat the Nasty Master), they'd all have the potential to be a cracking read. It's not the overall arc that's original and fresh; it's been done to death. It's what each author does, the voices they bring to the story, and the twists they implement which is important. It's why you can have anthologies based on a specific theme and not get bored halfway through.

    It does suck that it's near impossible to make The Original Story these days, but it doesn't matter. The reason others -- and I, I might add -- are a Jonathan Gould fan is because they love to see what you do to a premise. That's something you, and only you, can do for the world. And it's awesome.

    1. Thanks Simon.

      You're right - I guess I just like to whinge about these things - I guess if I'm one of those five writers, I'm the one most likely to turn my premise into a complaint.