Tuesday, October 11, 2016

From Robber to Baron

The early steps are to copy and adjust. You read something as a 14 year old and love it so you do your own take. You offer a twist ending to your own story after reading The Necklace. You offer a rambunctious language excursion after reading My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist. You try your hand at absurdity after reading A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

I didn't even realize what I had done when I wrote it, but the title and mood was similar to a piece I loved months or years ago in a Sixfold writing contest. So I scrapped it, back to the ash heap, try to hit the right melancholy chord some other time.

We learn early from aping those who we enjoy and like but at some point the robbery has to turn into something more individualistic, more brand-worthy. "Good artists copy, great artists steal" might work in the libertarian dystopia of silicon valley but the creative industry generally polices its self to the point of parody. Or maybe every story has been told, and told in every single way, but it's impossible for any one person to have seen them all.

Yet it's still a good novel or a good movie or a good short story that gets the creative juices flowing, unless I've managed to smuggle a bit of nicotine into my system; either way the cost is great. Maybe I'm not destined to write my own piece. Maybe nobody ever is.

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